Miriam Carey: Scared mom sprayed with bullets
Should police checkpoints be fatal In America?
That's the question that continues to haunt the family of 34-year-old dental hygienist Miriam Carey, who was gunned down by Secret Service and Capitol Police officers in a bizarre 2013 daylight shooting near the White House in Washington, D.C. What made the shooting even more startling? Carey's baby daughter was in the backseat of her black Infiniti G37 Coupe.
Carey, from Stamford, Connecticut, had traveled to D.C. for unknown reasons on October 3, 2013.
What she would do when she got there would be breaking news, and the subject of near-endless debate for the rest of the week, as Carey will have been reported to strike with her car a U.S. Secret Service officer, evade a police checkpoint and nearly hit a Capitol Police officer.
Barbara Nicholson, who employed Carey at a dental office in New Jersey, told the Washington Post, that the shooting, and the official police account of it, simply doesn't make sense.
“We’re left with a void and no answers,” Nicholson told the Post. “It’s like she was wiped off the face of the earth. She’s missed. She’s very missed.”
Also being missed is the reason why officers had to open fire on a mother with a baby in the back seat. There's no doubt there was chaos that day. Here's a telling by MotherJones:
She stopped next to a curb, and six officers on foot surrounded her Infiniti. Guns drawn, they yanked on the doors, demanding she step out. Instead, she put the car in reverse, slammed into a police cruiser behind her, then lurched forward onto a sidewalk, forcing officers to scatter. Three officers—two from the Secret Service, one from the Capitol Police—fired eight rounds at her. But she kept going, careening down First Street NW, turning right on Constitution Avenue, police cruisers tailing her, lights spinning and sirens screaming.
Soon she encountered a raised barrier. With nowhere else to go, she pulled the steering wheel to the left, rode onto a grassy median, and plowed into a parked car. Then she shifted into reverse, forcing a Capitol police officer to dart out of the way. That officer and a Secret Service officer each fired nine rounds at the Infiniti. Finally the vehicle stopped, its tires atop the median. The driver was taken to a hospital; her baby was somehow unharmed.
Was she an active threat to the officers? Why didn't she heed their commands?
“We all speculated that she was trying to get her child out of danger, when she was confronted with people with guns, because that’s what she would do,” Nicholson told the Washington Post.
Much was made of her mental state in local and national media reports. There was some talk of instability, post-partum (she gave birth to her daughter on August 12, 2012), even mental illness, but nothing has been able to stick.
A short time after the birth of her daughter, Carey called police in November 2012 to report a "stalker" who sought to "videotape" her outside her home in Stamford.
When officers arrived, they found nothing. According to Mother Jones, responding officers classified the call as an EDP or "Emotionally Disturbed Person."
In a police report cited by the Post and several other news outlets, Carey and the father of her child had an incident less than two weeks later in which police were called to her boyfriend's home. When cops arrived, her boyfriend was adamant that they take Carey to "get her some help."
“She stated that the residence was hers and she wanted [the boyfriend] removed,” said the report.
Asked why, “she replied it was because Stamford and the state of Connecticut [are] on a security lock down,” according to the report. “She stated that President Obama put Stamford in lockdown after speaking to her because she is the Prophet of Stamford. She further stated that President Obama had put her residence under electronic surveillance and that it was being fed live to all the national news outlets.”
The day Carey was gunned down, reporters had been able to track down her sister as well as her mother. That -- and by turning on CNN -- is how they learned that their sister and daughter was dead. And the live news coverage was wild.
"Was she trying to target the president?" was one of the main themes of TV news. In less than 24 hours later, her sister addressed reporters at a news conference, telling them that her sister had been diagnosed with a super-rare condition: "postpartum depression with psychosis." That meant that she was apt to experience horrific episodes of hallucinations, voices and manic behavior. Her sister made clear however, that medication had made Carey stable and she was not "walking around with delusions."
While Carey's family would still like answers in her death, much of the search for answers is just rhetorical and has been all but shut down.
The fallacy that Carey "rammed" or attempted to "ram" a police officer, a White House barrier or checkpoint clean through is as untrue as any talk that she planned a presidential assassination attempt.
The only barrier she banged into was the metal barricade that an off-duty Secret Service officer placed in front of her car—not to stop her from getting close to the White House, but to prevent her from leaving the checkpoint area.
Carey's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the shooting. They claim that the shooting was unjustified and could have been prevented. An autopsy report released to the public six months after Carey's death showed that officers had struck her from behind at least five times.