Capitol Hill car chase was 'another senseless killing by the police'

The shooting of an unarmed woman who led authorities in a car chase in Washington, DC on Thursday showed the typical “shoot first” mentality of US law enforcement, Brian Becker of the ANSWER Coalition told RT.

“This is the case of another senseless killing by the police, by trigger-happy cops who resort first to firing their guns, first to killing, and asking questions later,” Becker, director of the Washington-based Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition (ANSWER), said of the killing of unarmed 34-year-old Miriam Carey.

Carey, a dental hygienist of Stamford, Conn., ran into barricades Thursday afternoon near the White House before speeding down Pennsylvania Ave. towards the US Capitol Building. Her unharmed one-year-old daughter was a passenger in the vehicle. The chase ended when Carey rammed into barricades near the Capitol. As she exited the vehicle, she was shot dead by surrounding police.

“So if her car is disabled and the Sergeant-at-Arms says there’s no possible way for her car to pose a danger to Congress, why then did [US Capitol Police] open fire?” Becker asked of details that remain unanswered about the aggressive police response in the highly-fortified area that is Capitol Hill.

Becker said the punitive reaction by law enforcement is all too common, both in Washington, DC and around the nation.

“The police in Washington and around the country have a license to kill,” Becker said. “They know there’s never a prosecution. And as we saw in Congress, the Congress members just cheered. They cheered over this slaughter.”

RT:You’re based in Washington, DC What’s the reaction to this shooting incident? Is there an element of uneasiness about it?

Brian Becker: I think many people here in Washington, DC feel this is the case of another senseless killing by the police, by trigger-happy cops who resort first to firing their guns, first to killing, and asking questions later. This woman was clearly unarmed. We know that now to be the case. You see the video footage of her hitting a barricade in front of the White House, which is now reserved for pedestrian use only, not vehicular traffic. She’s from out of town, she may have panicked. She may have been confused. She may be mentally ill. We just don’t know that. But you see there’s five or six police officers just inches away from her head with guns drawn, and that’s when she starts to flee. She runs from them, she’s running away. And they start opening fire. There’s a lot of people around, lots of tourists, lots of people working in the Washington, DC area. And they keep shooting, and finally when her car is immobilized, she’s riddled with bullets by the police. Now, Terry Gainer, who is the Sergeant-at-Arms of the US Senate and formerly the chief of Capitol Police, said yesterday there was no possibility at all that she could have gotten access to the Capitol grounds because there are so many barricades. So if her car is disabled and the Sergeant-at-Arms says there’s no possible way for her car to pose a danger to Congress, why then did they open fire? It’s because they shoot first, ask questions later. The police in Washington and around the country have a license to kill. They know there’s never a prosecution. And as we saw in Congress, the Congress members just cheered. They cheered over this slaughter. And it really was the slaughter of an unarmed black woman in front of her baby.

RT:Well, the police have said there will be an investigation, but has there been a media outcry over this incident?

BB: The mainstream media really becomes a sounding board for, or the voice of, official politics and official power. And now the message over and over again is the message of the police: They were grand, they were courageous, they were doing their job, they protected the politicians. People are used to the official version coming through the mainstream media, but I can tell you in the streets in Washington, DC, particularly in the African American community - this woman was a black woman - that there’s lots of skepticism, because they know, people know from their own firsthand experience that the police have the right to abuse and kill in Washington, especially against black people. And there’s a lot of skepticism, a lot of fear that this too will be covered up, that there won’t be a serious investigation, it’ll be the police investigating themselves.

RT:Bearing in mind what happened in Boston during the marathon, and then of course the 12 people dying in the Navy Yard killing not long ago, it’s hardly surprising that the city is going to be on edge, isn’t it? So the police would perhaps be expected to react. But you’re saying they overreacted to this. But it is in an area of intense security, a very highly sensitive area right on Capitol Hill.

BB: Right, and for that reason, no car can actually get through the barricades. So somebody could drive into a barricade, but there’s no possible way that car is going to proceed to the White House and do harm to the President or to Congress, as we know, again, from the Sergeant-at-Arms in the US Senate. The police can always use the rational that it is tense, that these are highly secured areas, that that’s why they must shoot first and ask questions later. But there were many, many other ways to disable that vehicle, to have stopped it. She was unarmed. She had a baby in the backseat. They didn’t have to resort to, first of all, to shooting her. And we don’t know the whole story yet. Was she stopped first, before that first barricade, by an undercover police officer? There are some stories that say that. She may have been panicked if she saw someone not in uniform approaching her or threatening her. And if she was suffering any sort of stress or mental problems, you can see how under those circumstances, how something could be triggered. We just don’t know the details, but we do know the police always resort first to shooting. And in the United States, thousands of people die every year because of the police.