An attorney for the family of Miriam Carey, 34, the Connecticut woman shot and killed by Secret Service and Capitol Police after she apparently made a wrong turn into a White House checkpoint and then tried to flee, says the idea that the officers will not face criminal charges is not surprising.
Nor does it change the family’s legal position in their wrongful death claim, Eric Sanders, who is based in New York, told WND on Thursday.
“It was no surprise,” Sanders said after a telephone conference call with federal agents who said they were not bringing criminal charges against the officers.
But Sanders noted that it was significant that there was not a claim that the police should have done what they did.
“They didn’t say the police actions were justified,” he noted.
The issue is pertinent because unless there’s evidence that officers had somehow planned to target Carey, the possibility of criminal charges was almost nonexistent. That’s because a conviction would require evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” of an intent on the part of the officers.
The other side of the equation is that it appeared the door was open to a claim that the officers were mistaken, maybe panicked, possibly were negligent in their actions.
That would be the “focus of the civil liability point of view,” he said.
“Look, shootings happen all the time with police officers. They make mistakes,” he said. “Whether they brought [criminal] charges or not is irrelevant.”
Carey’s sister, Valerie, also was on the call, and was left upset by the determination, Sanders said.
But “we have to deal with the realities of what the case is about,” he said.
At this point, he said, his team can start reviewing the evidence available to see on what details the government made its decision.
The 34-year-old mother from Stamford, Connecticut, was shot five times, once in the head, three times in the back and once in the arm, in the confrontation with authorities in Washington. The bullets all missed her 14-month-old child, who was in the back seat of her vehicle as officers repeatedly fired at it.
The Justice Department said it was declining to press criminal charges against the Secret Service and Capitol Police officers who shot and killed Carey on Oct. 3, 2013. The federal review has been under way since the shooting by two uniformed Secret Service officers, who remained on duty, and the two Capitol Police officers, who have been on administrative leave.
Sanders noted it’s “very rare” for a law enforcement officer to be charged criminally, but none of those decisions changes the family’s position in the case.
“It doesn’t change our legal position,” he said.
Also expected, along with the decision about the charges, was a report on the federal investigators’ perspective on the shooting of Carey.
But Sanders said the prosecutors didn’t get into details about their decision.
He already has filed a preliminary wrongful-death claim against the federal government and the two law enforcement agencies that were involved, explaining that arguments the officers made instant decisions about firing their guns at the woman don’t really apply since evidence that the officers were defending themselves is absent.
Sanders is challenging the action based on suggestions the officers “panicked,” broke their own operating rules and standards, and fired on a moving vehicle.
It happened when Carey apparently made a wrong turn, but refused to stop, instead trying to flee.
Reports say police have claimed in federal court that police started chasing her near the White House after Carey drove over a bicycle rack that Secret Service officers placed in front of her car. She reportedly knocked an officer to the ground, then sped toward Capitol Hill.
Police apparently fired several times on the moving vehicle carrying Carey and her daughter.
WND reported earlier on the $75 million dollar lawsuit the family is bringing against the U.S. government, blaming the uniformed division of the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police for “numerous intentional, grossly negligent and reckless actions of police officers, supervisors, managers and other related employees.”
Authorities first called Carey a terrorist threat, and when she turned out to be an unarmed suburban mother, they said she was on drugs. Then no drugs were found in her system.
It was a report from Dr. Nikki Mourtzinos of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia that revealed Carey was shot repeatedly in the back.
The video below shows officers fired at least seven shots at Carey in a crowded public space after they inexplicably failed to block her car at the traffic circle.
See these other WND stories on the Miriam Carey Mystery:
Cops opt for ‘the fix’ after mom’s puzzling death
Covering chaos: The Capitol Hill Shooting
Why did Capitol cops cut down ‘innocent’ woman?
Legal Experts: D.C. cops murdered woman
Famous Security Expert: Was this Murder?
Missing! Video of mother killed by police
Cops knew suburban mom was no terrorist
Ex-NYPD cop hunts for truth on mom slaying
Fascinating D.C. murder mystery stranger by the day