The shooting on Capitol Hill of Miriam Carey, an unarmed woman who refused police commands to stop her car, was a familiar situation for any veteran of the Iraq War, with one significant difference — rather than moving through a progressive escalation of force while attempting to defuse the situation, Capitol Hill police officers went straight for their firearms and shot to kill. Since returning from my service as an Army combat medic in Baghdad six years ago, I have watched American police become more aggressively violent than my fellow soldiers and I were ever trained to be.
Much of the Iraq War was about securing neighborhoods, and much of that work was done by soldiers manning checkpoints, like the checkpoints Carey drove through during the incident that led to her death. Had this incident occurred in Baghdad and not Washington, D.C., the soldiers manning the checkpoint would have first drawn their weapons as the police officers did, but before firing at the driver would have fired into the ground in front of her and into her engine in an attempt to disable the car, as well as employing nonlethal munitions to smash through her windshield and lasers to temporarily blind her. Capitol Hill police did none of these things. After drawing their weapons, their first response to Carey’s refusal to cooperate was to open fire in a busy area of a major city. The video shows that they did not fire into the ground nor to disable her car, but clearly were aiming to kill Carey for disobeying their commands to exit her car. No nonlethal methods were attempted and nonlethal munitions, considered an essential piece of equipment for any checkpoint in Baghdad, may not have been available at these checkpoints in the US capital.