Was deadly force necessary in the Capitol Hill shooting?

Miriam Carey's death has caused much controversy over the police's use of deadly force in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Trevor McGoldrick courtesy of flickr_creative_commons)

Miriam Carey’s death has caused much controversy over the police’s use of deadly force in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Trevor McGoldrick courtesy of flickr_creative_commons)

Last Thursday, 34-year-old Miriam Carey, a dental hygienist from Stamford, Connecticut, was fatally shot by police after attempting to drive her car with her one-year-old daughter inside through a barrier at the White House, lead many people to question if the police’s use of deadly force was justified.

Carey’s family spoke to the media about her “emotional issues” and believed that she may have been motivated by her struggle with post partum depression. While the car did appear to attempt to breach one of the highest security buildings in the United States, the fact that Carey was unarmed leads many to say that the police’s 17 shots were gratuitous. In many major cities, shooting at a moving vehicle is considered the ultimate last resort, especially when there is no gunfire coming from the vehicle. The child’s presence in the car (who was unharmed in the incident) makes the decision to open fire on the vehicle even more questionable.

Carey’s sisters publicly spoke out against the police’s actions. Carey’s sister Valerie Carey told reporters for the Chicago Tribune, “My sister could have been any person traveling in our capital– Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn’t have to be.”

Because this incident occurred so soon after the deadly Naval Yard shooting, it is understandable why Washington’s police force was so quick to act. Any potential for an attack on the White House is taken extremely seriously, and the officers felt the need for deadly force because of Carey’s refusal to surrender at gunpoint.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of this story is how it only adds to the increased amount of violence in the news these past months, even in the Capitol alone. With issues of gun control, police violence and mental illness constantly on the United States’ national conscience, it seems that the time to ignore these problems is running out. The results of an investigation into the shooting are still pending, and  two of the officers involved have been pulled off the street while the case is explored. The Metropolitan police department stresses that this investigation is routine in a fatal shooting and it is unclear what the results will be. Until then Carey’s family and the rest of America’s questions will go unanswered.

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