(Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of an investigative series seeking the facts in the shooting of unarmed, suburban mother Miriam Carey by federal officers near the Capitol on Oct. 3, 2013, based on WND’s acquisition of the police report, never before released to the public, via a Freedom of Information Act request.)
WASHINGTON – The federal officer who fired what may have been the shot that killed unarmed, suburban mother Miriam Carey in the nation’s capital claimed he pulled the trigger because he feared for his life – even though she was driving away from him when he shot at her from the back.
New material obtained exclusively by WND also shows what Carey family attorney Eric Sanders calls “smoking-gun” evidence that there was no real investigation, only a cover-up.
In an exhaustive quest to learn the truth about why federal officers shot and killed Carey on Oct. 3, 2013, after she apparently did nothing more than mistakenly drive into a White House guard post and then immediately tried to leave, WND filed a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request to obtain the final report, which was, inexplicably, never released to the public.
That request was denied by the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, or MPD, which was tasked with investigating the incident and filing a report explaining why two uniformed U.S. Secret Service officers and two U.S. Capitol Police officers fired their guns at Carey. The report was reviewed by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, a branch of the Justice Department.
But months after the FOIA request was denied, the Washington, D.C., mayor’s office approved an appeal of that decision, and WND has since reviewed the material in the report, which includes numerous revelations that appear to contradict authorities’ official version of how Carey ended up dead.
What the material does not show may be as revealing as what it does disclose.
It doesn’t explain why officers used deadly force, whether officers followed the policy of their agencies or what threat Carey allegedly posed.
The documents show 72 witnesses were interviewed, but only 34 statements were provided in the material given to WND.
Some of those statements were apparently redacted because there were no accompanying transcripts. Some merely state that the interview was recorded on video.
Additionally, none of the actual transcripts of interviews in the witnesses’ own words were provided, just paraphrased versions in what Sanders, a former New York City police officer, described as “cop talk.”
The surveillance and dash cam videos were not provided.
Sanders told WND there is little evidence the police actually conducted a real investigation, or even compiled a final report at all.
Indeed, in one of the emails obtained by WND, MPD Assistant Chief of Police of the Internal Affairs Bureau Michael Anzallo informs the U.S. attorney’s office: “We will not be doing a final report.”
On July 10, 2014, the Justice Department issued this statement:
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced today that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or local charges against officers from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police who were involved in the fatal shooting of Miriam Carey on Oct. 3, 2013, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.”
But in the police report obtained by WND, there was no analysis of what happened to Carey or why she was shot.
There also was no analysis, or even discussion, of why criminal charges were not warranted.
That’s why Sanders said he believes there was no real attempt to obtain justice for Carey.
It was the job of U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen to decide whether to charge officers with using excessive force in the shooting death of Carey.
The reasons he chose not to file charges are not in the report obtained by WND.
His office has said little on the matter since the announcement, other than to release a statement that read, “There is more than sufficient evidence to show that under all of the prevailing circumstances at the time, the officers were acting in defense of themselves and others at the time they fired their weapons.”
But if officers fired in self-defense, why did they first open fire as she was driving away from them?
No summary of findings or conclusions
Does the absence of any summary of findings or conclusions as to why Carey was shot and killed mean there was no real investigation?
Sanders thinks so.
“The Department of Justice, United States Secret Service and United States Capitol Police in collusion with one another, conspired to cover up the avoidable shooting death of Miriam Iris Carey to avoid criminal and civil liability,” he told WND.
“Quite frankly, our review of the shooting report indicates there was more than ample evidence to arrest several officers in this matter for charges related to the shooting, obstruction of justice, perjury and related offenses.”
Sanders believes one email exchange in particular shows officials did not want to issue a final report or an analysis of whether the shooting was justified because that might have uncovered something that could have exposed them to litigation.
The attorney told WND it looked like investigators were entirely focused on avoiding litigation, not conducting a criminal investigation or attempting to discover the truth. Because of that fact, he argues, nothing in the report can be taken as credible.
This is the email exchange Sanders believes is key, between Anzallo of the MPD and someone (name redacted) in the United States Attorney’s Office District Of Columbia (USADC):
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:12 AM
From: (redacted) (USADC)
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:12 AM
To: Anzallo, Michael (MPD)
Cc: Dixon, George (MPD)
Subject: Capitol case
Hi. My memo is now with the Ron, so we are nearer to a decision in this case. I just saw (redacted) and he (redacted) mentioned (redacted) that (redacted) he needed to do the final report if we decline. I told him that I thought that doing so would put MPD right in the middle of the upcoming litigation, and that, because your Use of Force policy is different from USCPs, which is different from (redacted) USSS, that might create a big issue if (redacted) IAD renders an opinion as to whether this particular shooting was justified. Just my thoughts…
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:16 AM
From: Anzallo, Michael (MPD)
To: (redacted) USADC
Cc: Dixon, George (MPD)
Subject: RE: Capitol case
That is correct. We will not be doing a final report. We would like to include your memo in the case file if possible so we can turn over to the Capitol and USSS. Thanks.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:34 AM
From: (redacted) USADC
To: Anzallo, Michael (MPD)
Cc: Dixon, George (MPD)
Subject: RE: Capitol case
Unfortunately, we don’t release our memo. If that changes in this particular case (which would be a decision made at a much higher level than me), I will let you know. Capitol and USSS will both be doing their own reports/summaries. We won’t be turning the memo over to them either. I think we will also be returning the videos to USCP, but I’m waiting for final word on that.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 12:27 PM
From: Anzallo, Michael (MPD)
To: (redacted) USADC
Cc: Dixon, George (MPD)
Subject: RE: Capitol case
No problem (redacted.) Once we get the final decision we’ll forward a copy of the file to both USSS and US Capitol. We’ll also return the video to US Capitol.
Sanders said it showed that not only did MPD not intend to do a final report, the U.S. attorney’s office might decline to do one, as well.
Additionally, and significantly, Sanders said it showed the U.S. attorney’s office was advising the MPD against providing evidence that might result in litigation.
“Make no mistake, the Department of Justice was obviously protecting its clients, the United States Secret Service and United States Capitol Police, because if the Metropolitan Police Department determined there was probable [cause] to arrest, the Department of Justice would’ve been in a political crossfire, having to decline prosecution irrespective of probable cause,” Sanders told WND.
“In addition, if criminal liability were established with a conviction or plea bargain, civil liability would also be established. Also, if the Metropolitan Police Department determined the shooting were outside of department guidelines, civil liability would be much easier to establish. The same can be said for determining the police did not have probable cause to believe Miriam Iris Carey violated any laws; therefore, their actions would be deemed unlawful and everything flowing from their actions would be unlawful, too.”
Two key points
Much of what is in the report contradicts what official explanations have been given in the Carey shooting, but two points especially jump out.
One was the aforementioned statement by an officer that he shot as Carey as she was driving away because he feared for his life.
Another was a statement by one of the officers who pursued Carey that he heard over his radio that the suspect “had just rammed barriers that protected the White House,” which was not true.
That mistake may help explain why officers pursued Carey with such apparently unwarranted zeal.
Key point No. 1
On Oct. 3, 2013, 34-year-old dental hygienist and single mother Miriam Carey drove the 265 miles to Washington from her home in Stamford, Connecticut, with her 13-month-old daughter strapped into the backseat.
At 2:13 p.m., she drove up to a White House entrance guard post at 15th and E streets NW, apparently by mistake, because she immediately made a U-turn to try to leave.
The post was apparently poorly manned, because no one on duty stopped her from entering.
However, an off-duty Secret Service agent did, for some unexplained reason, try to prevent her from leaving.
Seven minutes later, Carey was dead.
Once she left the White House, federal officers pursued Carey down Pennsylvania Avenue, fired shots at her at Garfield Circle, just below the Capitol west lawn, then fired more shots at her where the chase ended, at 2nd Street and Maryland Avenue, about two blocks from the Capitol.
Under the heading “Preliminary Investigative Report Concerning the Use of Force,” one of the documents delivered to WND shows one of the officers who opened fire on Carey at Garfield Circle, perhaps the first officer to shoot, was a member of the Capitol Police, or USCP.
It reads: “The suspect then drove south on the sidewalk of Garfield Circle. In fear for his life, USCP Officer (redacted) discharged his service pistol several times at the suspect’s vehicle as she fled the scene.”
However, video shot by a news crew at Garfield Circle clearly shows she was driving away from the officers well before they fired.
In fact, the audio track of the video also demonstrates Carey was no longer even near the officers, and seemingly a safe distance away, when the shots are heard.
Video of the Garfield Circle shootings taken by news crew:
Another reason given in the documents for shooting at Carey was found under the heading “Statement of Allegation,” which said officers fired “to stop her progress.”
The text reads:
“On Thursday October 3, 2013, an unknown female drove the barracked at the US Capitol. The female was in a black Infiniti 2door coupe. There was a female child in the vehicle around 4years of age. The female was shot several times by Uniformed Capitol Police officers in an attempt to stop her progress.”
It is against the policy of most major metropolitan police departments to shoot to stop a suspect during a chase.
“Police State USA” by Cheryl K. Chumley explains how America is standing on the cusp of a police state, outlines clear, common-sense solutions to the erosion of America’s freedoms and explains how to reverse it. And the good news is: It’s not too late.
It is unclear whether that is true of the Capitol Police Department, because it refuses to publicly release its policy on permissible use of deadly force. Additionally, information cannot, by law, be obtained from the department by FOIA request. That is ostensibly because the department has the unique responsibility of protecting the Capitol from terrorism and other threats.
But a source formerly with the Capitol Police told Sanders it is, indeed, against department policy to shoot at a vehicle during a chase.
Even if that were not the case, Sanders argued, there was no indication Carey ever posed a terror threat.
He told WND that was “precisely why they didn’t publicly disclose their policies. They had no probable cause Miriam Carey committed any crimes.”
Sanders had previously told WND he was certain officers didn’t follow training guidelines.
He provided WND with a copy of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department’s guidelines on the use of force, “because it would only make sense that the Capitol Police and Secret Service would operate under similar guidelines.”
The Metro Police guidelines read:
- “[N]o member shall discharge a firearm in the performance of police duties except to defend himself or herself or another from an attack which the officer has reasonable cause to believe could result in death or serious bodily injury.”
- “No member of the the Metropolitan Police Department shall discharge his/her firearm … at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly force is being used against the officer or another person. For purposes of this order, a moving vehicle is not considered deadly force.”
That last point is critical – because, if a moving vehicle is not considered deadly force, Carey would legally be considered unarmed and not a threat. Nonetheless, she was shot and killed by officers.
After seeing the police report, Sanders also told WND he believes the fatal shot was fired at Garfield Circle, even though she continued to drive for about one minute before arriving at 2nd St. and Maryland Ave., where she crashed at a Capitol Police guard post and officers unleashed another barrage of bullets at her, fired from behind.
The medical examiner’s report showed Carey had five gunshot wounds: one to the left side of her head; one to the upper left back; two to her upper right back and a single wound to her upper left arm.
The report said the first shot “entered the head behind the left ear and traveled from left to right and directly through the brain stem. A damaged copper jacketed bullet and copper fragments were recovered from the right side of the skull. Dr. (redacted) indicated that this appeared to be the fatal GSW (gunshot wound).”
Sanders said the video shows that fatal shot was fired at Garfield Circle.
“The first shots occurred from the left rear to the front. That’s the only logical manner in which the head shot occurred. The remaining shots at the end occurred from the front to the rear, there were none from the left side.”
Sanders said the authorities did not want to disclose that fact because it would leave them liable for additional pain and suffering damages in litigation.
Since he believes Carey was fatally wounded at Garfield, Sanders concludes she was “driving dead,” on pure reflex and adrenaline, on her way to the guard post.
“With the kill shot fired at Garfield Circle, as determined by the medical examiner, quite frankly, it meant Miriam was dying when she was in flight mode. She was in no way in conscious control of her actions. Notice how they claim that wasn’t known in the autopsy report and the press release?”
Officers also claimed they shot at Carey in self-defense at the Capitol Police guard post at 2nd Street and Maryland.
However, that would appear to be contradicted by one of the witness statements.
The statement from the Justice Department on July 10, 2014, said:
“After ignoring multiple commands given by officers who were running towards her vehicle with guns drawn, Ms. Carey revved her engine and then reversed her vehicle and drove directly at a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was approaching Ms. Carey’s vehicle from behind. As the U.S. Capitol Police officer ran towards the median to avoid being struck by Ms. Carey’s vehicle, he and another officer from the U.S. Secret Service (who also had fired shots at the Garfield Circle location) started firing. The two officers fired nine rounds each. Twenty seconds after Ms. Carey had arrived at the 2nd and Maryland location, her vehicle crashed into the kiosk and came to rest.”
However, a witness said, “As the black vehicle was backing up and before it struck the police booth, there were no police officers near the vehicle.”
That statement was made by a woman who apparently works at the Supreme Court, because that is where she was interviewed by officers the day after the shooting.
The account said she “was working at her desk in the chambers of (redacted)” when she heard a gunshot.
“Mrs. (redacted) stated that she then heard two (2) to three (3) additional gunshots and observed a black vehicle that was facing west on Maryland Avenue, Northeast, but was in reverse and was backing east on Maryland Avenue, Northeast, until it struck a police booth. Mrs. (redacted) reported that after the black vehicle struck the police booth, several police officers surrounded the vehicle. Mrs. (redacted) advise (sic) that as the black vehicle was backing up and before it struck the police booth, there were no police officers near the vehicle. Mrs. (redacted) further advised that once the black vehicle was surrounded by the police officers, she could not see what was going on so she went back to doing her office duties.”
That leaves open the question, was Carey driving at officers or only in their direction? And, were the officers a safe distance away when they fired?
Even long before WND uncovered all of these additional details, once he heard the basic facts of the case in December of 2013, famed civil libertarian Nat Hentoff said from all of the evidence he had seen in WND’s reports, which he called very thorough and easily corroborated, “[T]his is a classic case of police out of control and, therefore, guilty of plain murder.”
Do we still have a Constitution? Why does the government attack, rather than defend, our rights? In his book, “It is Dangerous to Be Right when the Government is Wrong,” Judge Andrew Napolitano addresses the hard questions.
Key point No. 2
A Secret Service officer was asked to explain in a witness statement “how was it that he became involved in the incident near the White House.”
“Officer explained that he was on patrol near White House when he heard an officer from one of the fixed posted go over the radio zone that he had a priority.”
“Officer responded to location where he received a lookout (presumably a radio report to ‘be on the lookout’) for a black Infinity (sic) with Connecticut (plates) that had just rammed barriers that protected the White House.”
The officer said he then jumped into the passenger seat of a marked Secret Service vehicle and ended up at Garfield Circle, where the first shots were fired at Carey.
The officer’s statement might explain why officers pursued Carey with such ferocity and eventually used deadly force to stop her.
That officer, and all the other pursuing officers, might have believed they were trying to stop someone who had tried to commit an act of terrorism, or someone otherwise dangerous, if she “had just rammed barriers that protected the White House.”
Except, it wasn’t true.
The off-duty Secret Service officer had dragged a portable gate (often referred to as a bicycle rack in the police documents) in front of Carey’s car as she tried to leave the White House guard post, not as she entered.
According to a witness at the White House who was a visitor from Australia, Carey tried to avoid hitting the gate.
She also tried to avoid hitting the officer.
But when she tried to drive around the gate, he moved it right back in front of her.
The witness said:
“A male was pulling a gate in front of the vehicle to keep the vehicle in the area. The vehicle attempted to flee the area but the man pulled the gate back in front of the vehicle. The vehicle then hit the gate knocking this man to the ground.”
Mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, NBC and ABC News all reported that Carey tried to ram a White House gate or barrier.
The New York Times reported:
“A woman with a young child was shot to death after turning her vehicle into a weapon on Thursday afternoon, ramming her way through barriers outside the White House and on Capitol Hill.”
“Law enforcement authorities still don’t know why a Connecticut woman tried to breach a barrier at the White House, setting off a high-speed car chase that put the Capitol on lockdown and ended with her being shot dead by police.”
“A woman believed to be a dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn., was shot dead by police today after allegedly attempting to ram the White House gates and leading authorities on a high-speed chase to the U.S. Capitol, officials said.”
Where did they all get the same bad information?
It would seem to have come from police.
And where did police get that bad information?
It would appear to have come from either the Secret Service guard who reported the incident to headquarters, or the dispatcher who sent out the radio call to other police.
But somewhere, the truth appears to have gotten lost in translation, and Sanders said that may have cost Carey her life.
Missing police statements
The police report said four officers fired shots at Carey, two from the Capitol Police and two from the Secret Service.
Not one statement from those officers was in the report.
Their names were also redacted.
Sanders said those names should have been released because, “Police officers do not have a right of privacy as indicated by the case law. The Washington Post had an article about that very issue.”
From sifting through the material, it appears three of the shooters gave statements. It is unclear if the fourth, a Secret Service officer, was interviewed.
Sanders said, by law, in a criminal inquiry, all four should have given statements.
According to the Investigative File Report, “Agent 11 (redacted) obtained video-taped interviews from Sergeant (redacted) and Officer (redacted) of the (redacted) United States Secret Service Police, Uniformed Division, (redacted.) A ent (sic) (redacted) also obtained a statement from (redacted) United States Capitol Police, (redacted).”
There is no mention of a statement by the second Capitol Police officer.
The report also said hand-written notes had been collected from six detectives and one sergeant, but it does not say which departments they served. All of those names were also redacted.
The information in what appears to be copies of those notes is almost entirely redacted.
There is a mention of one officer who fired a weapon at Garfield Circle:
“Officer (redacted) of the USCP discharged his service pistol several times at Ms. Carey’s vehicle as she fled the scene. Ms. Carey continued to drive northbound on First Street, Northeast, and then eastbound in the 100 block of Constitution Avenue, Northeast.”
However, the report also indicated more than one officer fired a weapon at Garfield Circle.
The report also said both a Secret Service officer and a Capitol Police officer fired at her at 2nd and Maryland.
“UD and USCP pursued the suspect vehicle to 2nd Street and Constitution Avenue, Northeast (Constitution Avenue intersects with Maryland Avenue at 2nd Street) where Carey stopped the suspect vehicle abruptly, and then turned left and drove over a median strip. Carey then drove in reverse in the 200 block of Maryland Avenue, Northeast, during which time, Carey again refused to stop. At this point, officers from both USSS-UD and USCP fired several rounds into the suspect vehicle, striking Carey.”
The report does not say whether any of those who fired at Garfield also fired at 2nd and Maryland.
Video of the crash site at 2nd Street and Maryland Avenue shot by a bystander:
No video was contained in the material delivered to WND.
Sanders estimates 90 cameras recorded at least some of what happened to Carey.
That would include video recorded at the White House gate of Carey’s encounter with Secret Service officers. (Two photographs were released.)
It would also include video of the shootings at 2nd and Maryland by security cameras visibly evident at the Capitol Police guard post.
It would also include dash-cam video taken from officers’ vehicles.
But WND did not receive any video from security cameras, traffic cameras or dash cams.
One document in the report did state “CCTV (closed circuit TV) Footage has been obtained by: (redacted).”
According to the transcript below, the Secret Service, Capitol Police and the MPD all had copies of “all evidence reports, audio/video interviews and surveillance footage collected during the course of this investigation”:
“On July 30, 2014, Agent (redacted) provided a copy of all evidence reports, audio/video interviews and surveillance footage collected during the course of this investigation to Sergeant (redacted) of the USCP. On that same date, all copies of video footage provided by the USCP that captured the area in which this incident occurred was turned over to Sergeant of the USCP1. On July 31, 2014, Agent (redacted) provided a copy of all evidence reports and audio/video interviews collected during the course of this investigation to Special Agent (redacted) of the USSS. The MPD only provided copies of the video footage of this incident to the USAO and no other copies were produced by MPD.”
There are missing photographs and diagrams, too.
One document read:
“The following services were rendered. PHOTOGRAPHS: Digital Images were taken by the undersigned, and placed on the DIMS system. DIAGRAM : Done of the scene by Tech.
LEICA SCAN: Scan was done of the scene using the ALPHA. Digital Images: (redacted) ital. (redacted) were taken by the Technician (redacted) (Scene), using a Nikon D-200 SLR Camera, as well as Technician (redacted) (aerial). Both were downloaded to DIMS.”
No recordings or transcripts of radio transmissions were provided.
Also not provided were transcripts of computer transmissions (email or instant messaging) between squad cars and police headquarters.
Missing witness accounts
Thirty-eight witness accounts are missing from the material provided to WND.
The report stated:
“There were seventy-two (72) witnesses interviewed regarding this incident and their statements were captured by audio and/or video recordings. Copies of the aforementioned recordings were turned over to the USAO for review. Copies of the aforementioned audio and video recordings are stored in the main case file at the Technical Support Unit (TSU) located at the IAD.”
Of those 72 witness statements, only 34 were in the materials provided to WND.
Some of the witness statements provided to WND were blank.
One just said the interview was recorded.
Seven of them said, “See video for entire statement.”
MPD told WND that just names would be redacted, but that does not appear to be the case.
Large sections of transcripts were also blacked out.
Additionally, Sanders, the former police officer, noted there is no indication all of the officer’s firearms were checked, meaning it is not known for certain how many officers were actually involved in the shooting.
“Although the Metropolitan Police Department ‘report’ indicates four officers fired their service weapons, this alleged fact must be questioned along with the rest of the so-called facts,” said Sanders.
“It’s quite evident, the investigators never checked all of the officers firearms who were involved in the pursuit as standard police protocols require. Therefore, the number of officers who fired their service weapons remains an open question.”
Carey’s clothes apparently did not arrive at the medical examiner’s office, just her naked body.
There is no mention of what happened to her clothes.
Sanders said it appeared her clothes were lost and that not examining them would be against policy.
For instance, much could have been determined from examining gunshot residue on her clothing, perhaps even confirming the location of the fatal shot.
Search for shooting justification
Sanders said it was telling that the police report included legal definitions of terrorism obtained from a Cornell University website.
He said it showed authorities were desperate to find a definition of terrorism that would justify the shooting.
In sum, Sanders believes the material shows there was no real investigation – just a search for reasons to justify shooting, after the fact.
“A detailed assessment of the documents released by the Metropolitan Police Department indicates there was no serious effort to objectively investigate the ‘avoidable’ shooting death of Miriam Iris Carey. Quite frankly, there was a concerted effort between the Justice Department, Secret Service and Capitol Police to control the outcome of this report, clearly prepared in contemplation of litigation as evidenced by their email communication rendering any criminal or internal analysis meaningless.”
In upcoming articles, WND will explore the following issues in its ongoing reporting of what was found in the documents provided in the FOIA request:
- Was there any evidence Carey tried to enter the White House grounds?
- Did she refuse to stop at the White House guard post?
- Why did an off-duty officer try to stop her?
- Did police fire their weapons recklessly?
- Did Carey threaten officers?
- Did officers know there was a child in the car?
- Was Carey speeding?
- Was Carey driving recklessly?
- Why was she chased?
- Did she assault an officer?
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth