TODAY   |  October 07, 2013

Authorities look into use of force in D.C. car chase

Capitol police and the Secret Service fired at Miriam Carey, the woman who rammed her car into a security checkpoint near the White House last week, and now investigators are looking into whether shooting was justified. Most police departments prohibit deadly force at a moving car, but there are exceptions. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>> miriam carey that was shot and killed trying to breach security at the white house last week are trying to find out why police used deadly force to stop her. first, let's get the latest from justice correspondence pete williams . good morning to you.

>> good morning. investigators say that the shots were fired at miriam carey in her car by officers of the washington d.c. police department and the u.s. secret service . only later did they discover she had no gun but did have a small child in the backseat. so now the question, was the shooting justified? officials say both times that officers fired on miriam carey 's car she was trying to get away. once after jamming her car into reverse at the foot of capitol hill , and again near a senate office building just before she crashed her car into a capitol police security booth. the secret service says the chase began after she turned her car into a security checkpoint on the perimeter of the white house grounds and hit temporary fencing and struck a uniformed officer that tried to stop her. members of congress applauded the law enforcement response as a prudent one in view of what happened, especially since the white house and capitol building are considered potential targets of terrorism.

>> car bombs are so common in some parts of the world and we're wary of vehicles that may be used to harm innocent visitors or people that work in the u.s. capitol building .

>> reporter: most police departments have rules banning the use of deadly force against a fleeing car either by ramming or shooting at it. police in washington d.c. say their rules also prohibit shooting at a moving car unless deadly force is used against the officer or another person. but the director of an organization that advises police departments he says exceptions maybe justified.

>> policing in washington d.c. is a lot more complicated. they have to protect the u.s. capitol and the white house . they're concerned about terrorism and also they're concerned about other citizens that might be injured as well.

>> authorities are promising more than a routine investigation of why deadly force was used this time and they say that will include a reconstruction of every step that officers took in chasing the car and opening fire, matt.