BREAKING: Remains identified as missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham

No clarity, consensus on whether Capitol Hill shooting was justified

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVR/CNN) — The 34-year-old dental hygienist from Stamford, Connecticut, had just rammed her black luxury car through barricades and into police cruisers near the U.S. Capitol, one of Washington’s securest areas.

In the car with Miriam Carey was her one-year-old daughter.

Police say Carey then sped down Pennsylvania Avenue before crashing. Two law enforcement officers were injured, and officers fatally shot her.

But was the shooting of the unarmed woman justified?

“They surrounded the car, and then she backed up rapidly…then she struck the officer and then she fled the scene very rapidly,” Steve Neal, a veteran of law enforcement with more than two decades of experience, said. “So this is when lives of everybody in the area become at risk.”

CBS 6 viewers have raised questions about the force used by police in this situation.

“They knew the baby was in the car. Shooting into it was reckless. How would they have explained it if the little girl died as a result of it?” asked one viewer.

“She was driving her weapon. Regardless of what she had going on, they tried to take her without use of lethal force, they ended up using a last resort,” said another viewer.

“What the law enforcement officer is thinking here is about ending the threat to life–that’s your mindset,” Neal said, and added that when a threat is imminent, deadly force is used.

“These situations change so rapidly, sometimes you only have a fraction of a second to process what you see and to decide how they’re gonna act.”

He says it’s best to wait until all of the facts come out before making any kind of judgment call.

Maki Haberfeld, chairwoman of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said police would have had no way of knowing whether Carey posed a threat as she got out of the car, and therefore the shooting was justified.

“We live in times of heightened alert as far as terrorist activities are concerned,” she said. “The fact that she was not displaying a gun doesn’t mean anything, because bombers don’t necessarily display anything. They have the explosives around their waist, usually.

“It’s a matter of a split-second decision that the police officer needs to take before someone explodes himself. It’s all about the larger context. They just push the button, or it could be activated from a remote location.”

5 comments

  • Kathie

    Are you kidding me..she had an 18 month old child in the car? Was any logic used? If the car was the weapon why didn’t they disable the tires? How was shooting into the passenger side of the car even an option? Have we become obsessed with terrorism?

  • Joe Hoggood

    Neal is full of it. Doesn’t know what he is talking about. Shoot the tires STUPID. not the woman. Break the window and drag her out. The NY bikers could show these STUPID cops a thing or two.

  • jays

    knew it was a matter of time before the bleeding heart “arm chair quarterbacks” began questioning the actions of the law enforcement officers involved. For the record…Law enforcement officers have the right to shoot anyone threatening them or anyone else with a deadly weapon. Two officers were injured with a car… getting hit with a car can kill you, therefore it is a deadly weapon. Police officers on scene were 100% justified. Don’t want to get shot at? Don’t ram a barricade in DC or hit a police officer with your car intentionally

  • jays

    knewtu it was a matter of time before the bleeding heart “arm chair quarterbacks” began questioning the actions of the law enforcement officers involved. For the record…Law enforcement officers have the right to shoot anyone threatening them or anyone else with a deadly weapon. Two officers were injured with a car… getting hit with a car can kill you, therefore it is a deadly weapon. Police officers on scene were 100% justified. Don’t want to get shot at? Don’t ram a barricade in DC or hit a police officer with your car intentionally

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