HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSDC/AP) — The sisters of a Connecticut woman fatally shot by police in Washington after she tried to ram her car through a White House barrier said Monday she wasn’t delusional and suggest she may have been fleeing danger.
Police said Miriam Carey led Secret Service and police on a car chase from the White House past the Capitol, trying to penetrate the security barriers at both national landmarks. Her 13-month-old daughter was also in the car, but was not seriously harmed.
Carey’s sisters are now disputing the accounts of officials and their sister’s one-time boyfriend that she was under the delusion that President Barack Obama was communicating with her.
“What I do see is that perhaps maybe my sister was a little afraid being surrounded by officers with their guns drawn,” Valarie Carey said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “If in fact she wasn’t supposed to be in a restricted area, how was she allowed to drive in that area? If you hear gunshots it’s like, ‘I’m afraid, I don’t want to be here, I want to get out of here. I have a baby in the car.’ My sister was fleeing, she was trying to figure out how to get out of there.”
The other sister, Amy Carey-Jones, suggests police overreacted or were negligent.
“I feel that things could have been handled a lot differently and maybe there was some bit of overreaction or some negligence,” she said. “We don’t know, we’re still trying to find out. But we just still feel like there was maybe another story than what we’re being told.”
Valarie Carey said officials’ descriptions of her sister are “not the Miriam we knew.”
“She was not walking around delusional, which is what we really want the public to understand,” she said.
In a CNN interview on Monday morning, Eric Sanders, the lawyer representing the two sisters, rejected the suggestion that Miriam Carey is partly responsible for her own death.
“She didn’t contribute to anything,” he said. “She had absolutely every right to be in the nation’s capital.”
The issue is how police handled the matter, he said.
During the “Today” interview with Carey’s sisters, Sanders said some people tend to have a “siege mentality” because of the fear of terrorism, but that doesn’t excuse the behavior of the District police. He said officers should have tried other tactics before using deadly force.
D.C. Police say they’re reviewing the use of deadly force. The investigation will reconstruct the car chase and shooting, which briefly put the U.S. Capitol on lockdown, and explore how officers dealt with the driver and whether protocols were followed.
Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer said he was confident the officers “did the best they could under the situation.” Police guarding national landmarks must make fast decisions without the luxury of all the facts, especially when a threat is perceived, he said.
“This is not a routine highway or city traffic stop. It is simply not that,” Gainer said Saturday. “The milieu under which we’re operating at the United States Capitol and I suspect at the White House and at icons up in New York is an anti-terrorism approach, and that is a difference with a huge, huge distinction.”
Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said that while the shooting remains under investigation, he was proud of his officers’ “heroic” response and their overall efforts in protecting the Capitol campus and keeping it open for visitors.
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