Pressed to delve into lessons learned from the Oct. 3 shooting of Miriam Carey, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine stood by the department’s use of force Monday.
Dine called the high-speed car chase that started at the White House and ended with the Capitol under lockdown a “very, very quick, very fluid set of circumstances.”
He told House appropriators that he could not go into details on the criminal aspect of the officers’ actions, as the incident is under investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Valerie Carey, sister of the victim, has also filed a wrongful death claim against the Capitol Police, as well as the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service, seeking $75 million in compensation.
“These officers are out there every day putting their lives on the line and they have to make split-second decisions, and it’s easy for any one of us to obviously sit here and second guess them,” but even case law doesn’t allow for that, Dine told the panel.
Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., challenged Dine to weigh in on whether, given that Carey was unarmed and had a child on board, it might have been a better idea to shoot at the car’s tires, rather than at her body.
“There’s a lot of opinions out there but most of them are wrong and uneducated,” Dine shot back.
Dine told the panel considering his agency’s fiscal 2015 budget request that the department has begun to “analyze and dissect” other aspects of the shooting, including perimeter security and communication issues.
That prompted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., to ask if the radio system had hindered the department’s response. She said some officers were concerned that in the midst of the incident, the radios in use at the time were not capable of communicating with Secret Service agents.
Dine assured her that even though the department’s new radio system was not yet in use, communication was possible via two emergency channels and a mutual aid radio system. He also said the new radio system, implemented in late February had “critically enhanced” communication.
“We’re in a much better place than we were before,” he said.
Asked if he was happy with officer conduct and the outcome of the incident, Dine said, “Well, I’m never happy when someone dies.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.