Rescue personnel stand around a smashed U.S. Capitol Police car following the shooting. October 3, 2
Rescue personnel stand around a smashed U.S. Capitol Police car following the shooting. October 3, 2013. Photo by Reuters
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NEW YORK - Washington police could have avoided shooting dead a woman pursued by officers in a car chase last week, the driver's sister, a former police sergeant, said late Friday.

The family of Miriam Carey, whose 1-year-old daughter Erica was in the car with her during the incident, has said she suffered from postpartum depression.

Carey, 34, of Stamford, Connecticut, tried to drive her black Infiniti coupe through a barrier near the White House, then sped toward Capitol Hill, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended when her car got stuck on a median and police shot her.

"My sister could have been any person traveling in our capital," Valarie Carey told reporters outside her Brooklyn home. "Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn't have to be."

Law enforcement sources said Carey did not shoot a gun and there was no indication she had one.

"I'm more than certain that there was no need for a gun to be used [by police] when there was no gunfire coming from the vehicle," Valarie Carey said. "I don't know how their protocols are in D.C., but I do know how they are in New York City."

The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the shooting is under investigation by its internal affairs division with assistance from the Secret Service, the Capitol Police and the FBI.

A Secret Service officer was struck by Carey's car outside the White House during the incident, said U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. A Capitol Police officer was hurt when his car struck a barricade during the chase, which ranged over about 2.5 kilometers and lasted just a few minutes, officials said.

"I can tell you that she was a law-abiding citizen, carefree and loving. She had a baby and she did suffer from postpartum depression with psychosis," Carey's other sister, Amy Carey-Jones, said at the news conference in Brooklyn, adding that her sister had been receiving medication and therapy.

Eric Sanders, an attorney for the Carey family and a former New York police officer, said Carey's relatives have not decided whether to take legal action.

Carey's daughter was unharmed when taken in by the District of Columbia Child and Family Services on Friday, said Mindy Good, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Carey was a licensed dental hygienist, according to records kept online by the state of Connecticut.