Lawmakers Give Capitol Police Benefit of the Doubt in Shooting

Oct 10, 2013
In The News

A week after police shot and killed a woman who was racing toward the Capitol after trying to breach a White House barricade, lawmakers have been largely silent on the incident pending the results of an investigation.

“I’m concerned when any person is shot, armed or unarmed, if it could be handled in some other way,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. “But we need to see the report to determine if that’s the case. I am hopeful that the investigation will show the actions that were taken were necessary, but until such time, as it is, I’m going to err on the side of the Capitol Police having done the appropriate thing.”

Fudge isn’t alone. Connecticut lawmakers have likewise shown deference to the Capitol Police, even as the family members of the slain woman, Miriam Carey of Stamford, have been voicing skepticism that she was responsible for the shooting and asking whether police could have reacted differently.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., praised Capitol Police in a statement while also extending condolences to Carey’s family. “An investigation is certainly appropriate—as is ongoing—and I await its factual findings, along with oversight and scrutiny from other sources,” he said.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., whose district includes Stamford, likewise urged caution. “Obviously the death of Ms. Carey was a real tragedy,” he told The Hartford Courant. “I expect that a full investigation will be undertaken to out all the facts. Until that has been completed, people should reserve judgment.”

D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department is leading the investigation into the incident, with support from the U.S. Capitol Police, Secret Service, and FBI, according to police officials. The Capitol Police policy on the use of force is not public information.

The Capitol Police officer who had been hospitalized after the incident has been released, police said, and the officers involved in the event “are not in the field” pending the outcome of the investigation.

“I think that members are reluctant to second-guess people whose job it is to protect them, given the fact that there are a live threats that happen around here all the time,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., said he heard some informal questions among lawmakers in the days following the incident, “but now all eyes are focused on the shutdown.”

“I know now it’s a pretty dangerous thing for someone to be speeding from the White House to the U.S. Capitol at 80 miles per hour, running stoplights, and you don’t know if it’s a terrorist or a deranged individual or what,” Butterfield said. “The question most people are asking is why they didn’t shoot the tires out or resort to some other means of disabling the vehicle. But we’ve got to get the facts.”