Article has been updated. Updates are listed chronologically at the bottom of the text.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An erratic female driver sent the capitol city into lockdown, resulting in a frenzied deployment of armed security agents and mass panic around the city. Helicopters whirred overhead as men with rifles flooded the area. The chaos was initiated after a car evidently took a wrong turn at the White House and collided with a security barrier. The disgruntled driver fled the scene, and was pursued by police and ultimately shot to death when her car got stuck. [UPDATE] An autopsy has confirmed that she was shot in the back of the head, drawing questions about the use of force on a suspect that did not pose a direct threat.
The incident began on October 3rd, 2013, at 2:18 p.m., at an entrance to the White House. A black Infinity belonging to Miriam Carey, 34, of Stamford, Connecticut, struck a security barrier, and then an agent who was trying to block her vehicle. As the Washington Post reported:
It began with something not that unusual — a driver with out-of-state plates turning into a blocked entry near the White House.
It quickly became something else.
“Whoa! Whoa!,” Secret Service officers were shouting at the car, according to a witness, Shawn Joseph, 29. “It looked liked [the driver was] scared or lost. I thought they might have been a tourist.”
But then, witnesses said, officers tried to place a barrier in front of the car. The driver swerved. The officers moved the barrier. She hit it, and a Secret Service officer was thrown up on the hood and then off the car.
The officer was not badly hurt. The driver sped east and was stopped by police at a small traffic circle at the foot of Capitol Hill.
It is not known whether the Carey’s actions were intentional or malicious. But her reaction was to flee, after having guns pointed at her and being fired upon by security agents. She sped away with her 1-year-old daughter, Erica, was in the back seat.
Pursuit and Lockdown
Police gave chase, following the panicked woman at a high speed. She drove a full revolution around a roundabout, and was stopped once momentarily by police. With guns pointed at her from every angle, she backed up and took evasive maneuvers to get away.
Video: Car chase that led to shooting:
From this moment forward the city went into panic-mode. The initial media reports said that there was a shooter at the White House. Wild speculations about bombers and terrorists flooded the internet.
Dozens of vehicles converged on the scene. Agents across the city took up defensive positions, locked down buildings, warned people to “shelter in place.” Panicked congressmen made announcements that they were safely accounted for.
Pictures emerged of people in business attire running for their lives and cowering on the ground in terror. Government agents were seen carrying rifles that no citizen would be legally allowed to have in public.
During the height of the hysteria, a Capitol Police vehicle sped down a street at a high rate of speed, striking a street barrier and totaling his car. He was not actively involved in the pursuit, and was not be seriously injured. Carey had nothing to do with his accident. But pictures of his wrecked vehicle would be dubiously used to inculpate Carey as having destroyed a police car. Video of this wreck was captured and is available here.
Police fired at Carey at least twice during the pursuit, according to the Washington Post. As seen in the Alhurra TV video, police fired at her vehicle as she drove away from them. The final shots came at her when her car got stuck on a grassy median at Maryland Avenue and Second Street NE. With her car paralyzed, agents moved in and opened fire.
Carey was shot without exiting the car, confirmed Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer. The toddler was unharmed.
Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) told CNN that he was outside on a Capitol balcony when he said he heard seven or eight shots “all in less than a second.”
Miriam Carey was dead, but the panic in security-obsessed Washington D.C. would continue for hours.
The reaction and coverage that happened next were sensational and hysterical. After the terrifying reports of an active shooter at the White House, the narrative progressively changed. Next they reported a shooter near the White House. Then they reported a shooter near the Capitol Hill. Then, they reported a shooter was on the loose near Capitol Hill, and one officer was injured!
These reports were of course wrong. The only shooting that took place was on the part of the police. Carey was unarmed the whole time.
It would take hours for the lockdown to unwind and for the fear to calm down.
Police touted this incident as a success story of their massive multi-billion dollar security complex created around Washington D.C. after 9/11/2001. “The security perimeters worked” at both the White House and the Capitol, said D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
The perimeters that Lanier spoke of are the automated barriers that literally rise out of the middle of streets and blockade roads. Washington D.C. can be locked down at the press of a button.
“I am pretty confident this was not an accident,” said Lanier.
Dental Hygienist Without a Motive
Carey’s traffic incident was treated like a potential terrorist plot.
Back at her home in Stamford, CT, swarms of police, FBI agents and bomb disposal units surrounded her apartment complex, and forced 50 people to evacuate their homes, according to ABC News.
Police donned HAZMAT (hazardous materials) suits, wearing self-contained breathing apparatuses, before entered Carey’s apartment, as if they were preparing to go into an Al Qaeda terrorist den.
“When we got home late this afternoon, there were three helicopters flying above, there were Haz-Mat trucks and bomb-squad trucks coming in, and police were telling people to get out of their condos,” said Krysta Valentine, 29, who lived in the vicinity of Carey.
People who knew Miriam Carey seemed stunned to learn that she was involved in a car chase. No one seemed to know why she might be in Washington D.C.
Dr. Steven Oken, her boss of eight years, described Carey as a “non-political person” who was “always happy.” According to ABC News, Oken said that he “would never in a million years believe that she would do something like this.”
Her distraught mother floated the idea that depression may have played a role. “She had post-partum depression after having the baby” last August, said the woman’s mother, Idella Carey. She added, “A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed.”
She “didn’t deserve to die like she did,” said her sister Valarie Carey, who lives in Brooklyn, according to NY Daily News.
More details of a possible mental illness are being revealed, leaving tragic questions about why police were so quick to use force on a woman who may have been delusional or having a panic attack; not directly attacking anyone.
Controversial Use of Force
Critics are concerned at the evidently new standard of using force against suspects. In this case, agents fired at Carey’s vehicle as she drove away from them; posing no further threat to any agent’s life. ABC News reported on the radio that day that force had been “authorized” against the suspect — as if she was a military target.
“If she wasn’t using any physical force, I don’t know why they opened fire on her,” said Joseph Pollini, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Pollini, who is also a retired New York police commander, explained, “Just because she didn’t get out of the car if they told her to get out of the car is not sufficient to use deadly force.”
But the standards of shooting at people on American streets may be changing in the post-9/11 world. After all, the erratic dental hygienist may have been a suicide bomber, explained the Senate Sergeant at Arms.
“In general, you would not shoot at a vehicle unless it poses the types of threats that would lead you to believe that there was an imminent danger of death and bodily harm,” said Gainer. “But the thing that’s distinctive about this is it was not your typical traffic violation,” he said, citing the threat of terrorism. “We operate in an environment under the constant threat of attack from suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices.”
The public ought to use caution that they are never involved in any atypical traffic violations. It does not bode well that a panicky dental hygienist can send the nation’s capitol into lockdown and justify “authorization” of the use of deadly force — with or without the woman directly threatening anyone.
Additionally, the use of force does not even appear to be consistent with the department’s own rules. 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.”
Even more disturbing was an eyewitness account that suggests that the police felt safe enough to go up to the immobilized vehicle to grab the baby, but then proceeded to open fire on the driver.
“As soon as the child was pulled from the car, then the gunfire really let loose,” said the eyewitness.
UPDATE: Autopsy Confirms Carey Shot from Behind
Six months have passed and authorities have still not provided an official report about what happened during the Miriam Carey homicide. The video of the guard shack altercation has still been kept under wraps.
An autopsy report of Miriam Carey’s body has revealed that she was shot from behind — in the back of the head. Additionally, the toxicology report shows that she was on no drugs of any kind; not even prescriptions.
Eric Sanders, attorney for the Carey family, was interviewed by WND and discussed the latest revelations in the case.
“We received the medical examiner’s report and we found out what we hypothesized is the truth: she was shot in the back, in the back of her head, multiple times on the left side, which supports our theories that she was driving away and they were shooting at her when she was no longer a threat — or what they perceived as a threat — to them. That’s what they’re claiming — its nonsense.”
Sanders commented about how the media portrayed her first as a terrorist, and then as a drug user. But both of those rumors have been shattered, with the release of the toxicology report. “She was on no drugs when she came to Washington, D.C. She was here like any other citizen, and now she’s dead,” said Sanders.
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Demand that the video of the checkpoint be publicly released. Demand that an official report of the entire incident be released. Demand accountability for shooting Carey in the back of the head.
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