WASHINGTON – Silence isn’t always golden.
The family of the late Miriam Carey has now had to endure a year of silence from officials who have not said why she was shot dead by Secret Service agents and Capitol Police on Oct. 3, 2013.
A full year without a clear explanation of what happened and why.
A full year without receiving an apology or even condolences.
And a full year of near-silence from an uninquisitive Congress and mainstream media.
The Carey family, friends and supporters deployed a powerful tool to protest all that silence, staging a poignant demonstration on steps below the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Friday: their own silence.
They marked the year that had passed since Miriam’s death by remaining completely quiet while solemnly holding signs with Miriam’s picture, along with the inscription: #Justice4MiriamCarey.
About 30 strong, ranging in ages from toddler to grandparents, the protesters spoke volumes without saying a word, standing in utter silence for about a half hour.
The Capitol Police had sent a pair of officers to ensure the demonstration was orderly. They needn’t have bothered. What they found was what most observers would likely regard a model of dignity and decorum.
In fact, that quiet dignity was so powerful, it inspired murmured expressions of awe from some of the crowd who assembled.
At the conclusion of the silent protest on the steps beneath the Capitol, one-by-one, family members released butterflies in memory of Miriam.
As she set her butterfly free, Carey’s mother Idella said, “That’s for you, Miriam.”
He sister Amy softly uttered, “We love you, Miriam.”
Sister Valarie was silent.
WND has spoken to Carey family attorney Eric Sanders at great length over the last year about what he thinks happened to Miriam and why. He had more to say on this day, but it was also an occasion to hear from Miriam’s mother Idella and sisters Valarie and Amy, who bused-in from New York City with friends and family.
Valarie expressed mixed emotions, telling WND, “I felt her presence today and that made me feel good.” But, she added, “Feeling her presence also made me realize how much she’s missed, which made me feel very sad.”
“Miriam could have been anyone. And she was killed unjustifiably. It was wrong, and we want people to know that.”
Miriam’s mother Idella said, “It was a good day for me. I was glad. I came to Washington and got a chance to see where my daughter was before she passed away. I didn’t really feel sad.”
She said she felt “much better” having seen for herself where it all happened.
But she didn’t feel closure, softly concluding, “I just want justice for my daughter.”
Miriam’s other sister, Amy, said, “I felt an overwhelming sadness at some point because it just still seems so unresolved.”
She said, as they walked around and saw where Miriam was shot and where her car came to a final stop, “It shows there are still so many questions that have not been answered.”
“Most important to me, I would like to really have a good understanding, a final report or some kind of explanation as to how it actually happened and why it happened.”
Amy was especially curious to know what triggered the incident initially at the White House, wondering, “What was that conversation between my sister and that officer? What action actually caused the chase? What was so much a threat that she had to die?”
For his part, Sanders didn’t mince words: He called it a cover-up by police, the Secret Service and the Department of Justice, or DOJ.
He also called the DOJ’s refusal to release the official report on the incident a “stonewall.” The actions of the Secret Service and the Capitol Police were investigated by the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. That report was reviewed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is part of the Justice Department.
In July, the DOJ announced it would not charge any Secret Service agents or Capitol Police officers in the death of Carey. But the department refused to release the final investigative report and has never fully explained what happened to Carey and why.
Sanders said officials also refused to release video of the incident at the White House gate and the shooting because, “It would not be favorable to their version of events.”
He also blasted the silence on Capitol Hill. Congress held a hearing this week on the armed intruder who got past five rings of security and made it 168 feet into the White House on Sept. 19.
Sanders observed that man was not shot, unlike Carey, who merely tried to make a U-turn and leave the White House, just the opposite of trying to break in.
The outrage over the break-in caused Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to resign.
As for the response on Capitol Hill to the shooting of an unarmed suburban mother?
“Crickets,” summed up Sanders.
“Congress has subpoena powers and can hold hearings. They could certainly find out what happened. They wanted to know what happened in Ferguson. Why not here? You have a right to know. They can’t cover-up this just because they feel like it.”
The attorney believes even the few facts that are known prove federal agents wrongfully killed Carey.
According to Sanders:
- Carey mistakenly drove into a White House entrance at 15th and E Street, which is not against the law.
- She was not stopped by the Secret Service agents manning the gate, who apparently were not paying attention.
- Carey should have been stopped then and there, but guards were virtually asleep on the job.
- She then made a U-turn and tried to leave, which is also not against the law. Agents should not have stopped her then.
- But an off-duty officer in civilian clothes tried to stop her from leaving by placing a metal rack in front of her car and leaning on it.
- Once Carey did leave, for some unknown reason, agents and officers followed her, which was technically unlawful search and seizure, and certainly, he insisted, a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights.
Sanders believes agents and officers pursued Carey, not because she broke any law, but because their pride was hurt when she refused to stop before leaving the White House gate.
Miriam Carey wasn’t shot and killed to protect the White House, he said.
Sanders pointed out she was eventually killed at Maryland Avenue and 2nd Street, a good two miles from the White House.
“It’s about ego,” he told WND at a press conference Friday.
“They overcompensated,” he asserted. “God forbid you don’t listen to the police.”
Sanders has reason to believe he knows the police culture and the mentality.
He and Valarie Carey are both former New York City Police officers.
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth