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Rampaging driver shot dead on Capitol Hill: Did cops do the right thing? (+video)

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"My sister could have been any person traveling in our capital," she added. "Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn't have to be."

Some criminal justice experts disagree.

Maki Haberfeld, a criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told CNN that police couldn’t have known whether Carey posed a threat or not.

"We live in times of heightened alert as far as terrorist activities are concerned," she told the Atlanta-based cable news organization. "The fact that she was not displaying a gun doesn't mean anything, because bombers don't necessarily display anything. They have the explosives around their waist, usually.”

The new protocols are understandably disconcerting to police, David Klinger, a cop turned university criminologist, told the Atlantic magazine. Using deadly force has historically not been the first thought for American police officers, “but now they have to contemplate it …  We’re going to have to come to the conclusion in our society that in some situations the police need to shoot people.”

The Capitol Police internal affairs unit is investigating the shooting. The main issues are likely to be whether police thought Carey had a bomb and whether they gave any warning to Carey that they were going to shoot.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2005 issued standards for how to deal with suspected suicide bombers, where officers are not required to wait until threat is imminent before firing. Since 2004, the US Capitol Police have been trained to shoot suspected bombers who refuse to stop and be searched.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, ruled in Tennessee v. Garner that it’s not an unreasonable reading of the US Constitution to allow officers to shoot if they have a serious suspicion that the suspect intends to do serious physical harm. The court said warning should be given “where feasible.”

By the time Carey was shot and killed, she had already hurt two police officers – a secret service officer struck by her car as she raced away from the White House, and a Capitol Police officer who was injured when his squad car struck a barricade during the mile-and-a-half chase.

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