Officers who fatally shot an unarmed Connecticut woman after a high-speed car chase from the White House to the Capitol last fall will not face criminal charges, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Prosecutors who spent months investigating the shooting of Miriam Carey, 34, of Stamford, Connecticut, said they concluded that officers from the Secret Service and the Capitol Police did not use excessive force and did not have the criminal intent required for a prosecution.
The shooting on the afternoon of Oct. 3 ended a bewildering chain of events that spanned just minutes but put the Capitol, the Supreme Court and other buildings on Capitol Hill in a frantic lockdown. Her child was in the back seat of the car but was unharmed.
The U.S. Attorney's Office released a timeline Thursday providing the most detailed account to date of Carey's interaction with law enforcement.
Authorities said the incident began when the former dental hygienist drove into a well-marked White House checkpoint, ignored orders to stop and then struck a bike rack and an officer in her path. She then led officers on a chase toward the Capitol, at one point ramming a marked police cruiser and later veering onto a sidewalk in what prosecutors described as "reckless and evasive driving."
After striking the unmarked car of a Supreme Court police officer, prosecutors say, she revved her car engine, reversed the vehicle and drove directly at a Capitol Police officer who was approaching from behind. That officer and another officer from the Secret Service fired nine rounds each and Carey's car crashed into a kiosk and came to a rest. She was unconscious at the time and did not get out of the car, according to the account from prosecutors.
Carey suffered five gunshot wounds to her neck and torso, one of which was fatal, and was pronounced dead at a hospital, the authorities said.
Carey had been diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis. In the months before the Washington incident, she told police officers at her Connecticut apartment that President Barack Obama had communicated with her and had set up cameras to record her life for national news outlets, police said.
It is not clear why she came to Washington that day. She was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, police have said.
To build a criminal prosecution, the government would have had to have proven that the officers used excessive force and willfully and intentionally broke the law by shooting her.
"Accident, mistake, fear, negligence and bad judgment do not establish such a criminal violation," the office of U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said in a statement.
Eric Sanders, a lawyer for Carey's family, said in a statement that the Justice Department's decision was not surprising and does not affect her family's legal position in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Secret Service and Capitol Police.