An autopsy report, made public six months after Miriam Carey was shot dead after leading Washington police on a car chase from the White House to the Capitol, revealed that the 34-year-old woman was struck by five bullets from behind.
Attorney Eric Sanders, who is representing members of Carey’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the government, said the autopsy proves the shooting was unjustified.
Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, one of the agencies involved in the incident, said the department would not comment on the pending litigation and while an investigation is ongoing.
Schneider said the officers involved are on administrative leave.
Sanders released the report on the six-month anniversary of the shooting, which captured national attention as the chase unfolded on cable networks and in the following hours when it was revealed the suspect was an unarmed dental hygienist from Connecticut with a 1-year-old in the backseat.
On October 3, Carey approached a White House checkpoint and was approached by Secret Service officers. She made a three-point turn, striking an officer who was trying to move a barricade into her path, before driving away, according to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant.
Police said the car sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, where security vehicles stopped it at Garfield Circle. Carey put the car in reverse, hit a police car and drove away as officers fired at her.
Dramatic video footage by a videographer for Alhurra TV, a Middle Eastern news outlet financed by the U.S. government, showed the black vehicle then speeding around a nearby traffic circle with a police car in close pursuit and then heading away. The car crashed into more security barriers a few blocks later, witnesses said.
More shots were fired after the vehicle stopped, and the woman was hit several times, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier. The child was unharmed.
The office of the District of Columbia medical examiner said in the autopsy that one round struck Carey in the left side of the back of her head, and she was also hit three times in the back and once in her left arm. The report didn’t determine in what sequence Carey was hit.
Toxicology tests determined Carey didn’t have alcohol or drugs in her blood.
Her family has questioned since the day of the incident whether shooting Carey was the only way to end the chase, which went through the heart of the nation’s capital.