The strange case of Miriam Casey, the Stamford, CT dental technician who placed her 18-month child in the back of her black Infiniti coupe and drove 256 miles to Washington D.C. where she tried to run a checkpoint at the White House has baffled the nation. When confronted, Carey put the car in reverse, stomped the accelerator and fled the scene after knocking an uniformed Secret Service officer over the hood.
Video captured Carey zooming around the mall from the White House to the U.S. Capitol where she was killed by an undisclosed number of gunshots fired by the police. The 34-year old was unarmed and carried no weapons in her vehicle.
As the details of who Miriam Carey was slowly spooled out any thoughts she might have been a terrorist were immediately dismissed once it became clear she was extremely troubled.
Carey had received a diagnosis of postpartum depression with psychosis, her sister Amy Carey-Jones said in a Friday interview on “Anderson Cooper 360°,” and had been treated with counseling and medication, but was reducing her use of medication under a doctor’s supervision. Carey-Jones said her sister “didn’t appear to be unstable.”
“We will never know what Miriam was thinking in those last hours before she died,” her sister told Cooper. “We can only speculate, and our real concern is why and were things done properly. Was there some other way that she could have been helped so that it didn’t end tragically?”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said the investigation has uncovered “a picture of a mentally disturbed woman.” Carey had been treated for schizophrenia, he said, but two of her sisters disputed his characterization.
McCaul said her condition may have been exacerbated by a recent head injury and that her boyfriend had called police to say she believed her apartment was bugged and Obama was behind it. Carey’s sisters, however, said in their CNN interview that they had never heard her say anything of that nature. Valarie Carey called the boyfriend’s account “very questionable.”
Carey was likely not responsible for her actions and she needed help not a bullet. But whose fault is it she didn’t get that help? It is saddening a woman is dead and her child is motherless. But Carey tried to ram her car through a checkpoint of one of the most secure buildings on the planet. Failing that, she backed up, sends a Secret Service agent flying over the hood of her car and fled around the Capitol in a high-speed chase that ended with her death.
At what point are the authorities allowed to assume, “This person is dangerous. Obviously does not plan to be taken into custody and has no regard for anyone’s life including her own.” ” Yes, strip spikes might have been helpful. Shooting out her tires might have been helpful too, but what if she had 500 pounds of Semtex in her trunk that could go off it the car flipped?
I’m not a cop, but I know a few and they tell me, cops aren’t trained to wound or disable a suspect. A wounded or disabled suspect can still kill. Dead ones can’t.
Nobody knew Carey was mentally ill, but nobody knew how dangerous she might be either. With the shooting spree at the Navy Yards having occurred just a few weeks ago, if the cops and Secret Service were edgy, maybe they had good reason to be. Do I think cops are at times too willing to pull their piece and blow someone away? Hell yeah, I do as the recent case of Jonathan Ferrell shows. Some cops are too eager to use lethal force when they should not.
Before I can second-guess the split-second decisions made by the cops in Washington D.C. because of what we know about Miriam Carey now, we should pause a moment and consider what they feared could happen if they didn’t stop her then.
“She didn’t contribute anything [to the incident],” said Eric Sanders, attorney for the Carey family on The Today Show. “She had absolutely every right to be in the nation’s capital.”
Yes, she did, but why was she there and why did she try to get past a White House barricade?
If the argument goes, “Carey wasn’t responsible for her actions” how was she responsible enough to hold a job, own a condo, drive a car, bear children and live independently? I don’t think Carey can be held “responsible” for what happened, but until it’s determined what she was in Washington for, even if you want to characterize law enforcement’s actions as excessive, a strong argument can be made they were also unavoidable.
Here are some other questions that need answering.
1. Carey’s family and friends say she wasn’t political, but her ex-boyfriend says Carey believed she was being stalked by President Obama. What prompted her to drive nearly 300 miles from her home?
2. The FBI searched Carey’s home and found discharge papers that listed risperidone, a medication to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and paperwork listing escitalopram, an antidepressant commonly prescribed under the brand name Lexapro, but none of the medications were found in the home contrary to earlier reports. Why the discrepancy?
2. Carey’s mother said her daughter suffered from postpartum depression, but her sisters say was getting better, was being taken off her medicines and did not hear voices or seem delusional. Was Carey really getting better as her sisters claim she was or was her sickness more severe than they believed?
4. The New York Times reported Carey’s car crashed into a barrier and when she got out of the vehicle she was shot and that was when authorities realized 1-year-old Erica was in the backseat, unhurt. How many times was Carey shot? Was she given the chance to surrender or the Capitol police just pull out their guns and start blasting away.
Eventually fault will be lie with someone here, but even if it’s not all on Miriam Carey, some of it is.
- Miriam Carey family: ‘Shooting was not justified’ (thegrio.com)
- Use of force to be studied in DC police chase (news.yahoo.com)
- Miriam Carey’s lockbox carried uncashed check, but nothing to explain motive behind wild chase through Capitol (dccrimestories.com)
- The Execution of Miriam Carey (txwclp.org)
- The Execution of Miriam Carey (txwclp.org)