Family Presses Ahead With Lawsuit in Fatal Capitol Hill Shooting

Evidence markers are placed near a Capitol Police vehicle following a shooting last October. Evidence markers are placed near a Capitol Police vehicle following a shooting last October. Charles Dharapak/AP

The lawyer for the family of a Connecticut woman fatally shot by federal officers last October after a car chase from the White House to Capitol Hill said he was not surprised by the Justice Department's decision to not prosecute the officers involved.

But attorney Eric Sanders of New York said Miriam Carey's family will press ahead with its $75 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police.

In fact, Sanders said the closing of the criminal inquiry may open up more opportunity to obtain further information from government agencies to support the lawsuit. The 34-year-old dental hygienist from Stamford died after being shot five times by officers while in her car. Carey's 14-month-old daughter was in the back seat during the shooting, but the child was not injured.

National Journal first reported Wednesday that Justice Department officials had decided they would not pursue federal criminal civil-rights or local charges against the two Secret Service officers and two Capitol Police officers involved in Carey's death. And department officials publicly released a statement Thursday that "federal prosecutors have found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these officers used excessive force under the circumstances known to them at the time."

Sanders said he had been contacted earlier Thursday by Justice Department officials who handled the investigation about the decision not to prosecute, prior to the public announcement. He said he'd been expecting such an outcome, but did not agree with it, and that "we'll go forward" with the civil case.

"Today, after nine months of 'utter' silence by government officials we were not surprisingly told by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia they are 'declining prosecution' because after an exhaustive review of the available evidence they will not be able to meet the 'willfulness' standard as required by various criminal statutes," Sanders said.

"There is no finding that the police use of force against Miriam Iris Carey was 'justified,' " he said.

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