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Woman Accused of Ramming Police Cruiser Near US Capitol Will Not Have Mental Health Screening

Taleah Everett's attorney said he saw no reason to question her competency, but her relatives say she suffers from mental illness

What to Know

  • A woman accused of nearly hitting an officer and crashing into a police cruiser near the U.S. Capitol appeared in court Thursday.
  • Prosecutors charged the woman as Mia K. Hill and said her alias is Taleah Everett.
  • Everett's defense attorney said she is mentally competent, but relatives told News4 she has suffered from mental illness.

A woman accused of causing a security scare near the Capitol Building Wednesday morning will not have a mental health evaluation after a judge did not grant a prosecutor's request to evaluate her competency.

Taleah Everett, 20, was arrested after the shooting near the U.S. Botanic Garden, on the 100 block of Independence Avenue SW.

She was charged with seven counts of assault on a police officer on Wednesday, but prosecutors only brought four of those charges against her in court on Thursday. She was also charged with one count of destruction of government property and one count of fleeing an officer. Everett faces 35 years in prison.

Prosecutors charged Everett under a different name, Mia K. Hill. They said her alias is Taleah Everett, the name police gave reporters Wednesday. When a judge asked her for her name, the defendant identified herself as Taleah Michelle Everett.

Prosecutor Laura Crane asked the judge for a mental health screening to evaluate Everett's competency. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather declined to grant one after the federal public defender appointed to represent Everett, Tony Miles, said he had seen no reason to question her competency.

Everett told the judge she had no health issues that would interfere with her ability to understand the court proceedings. The judge did advise Miles to consider her mental health as the case proceeds.

Wednesday's incident began about 9:20 a.m. when an officer saw someone driving erratically, headed eastbound on Independence Avenue. The driver nearly hit the officer, Capitol Police said. 

According to charging documents released Thursday, Everett ran a red light and the officer tried to flag her down. Everett allegedly made an obscene hand gesture toward the officer and almost hit two pedestrians before proceeding to drive up Independence Avenue.

Police in cruisers and on foot chased Everett and she made a U-turn, drove the opposite way on Independence Avenue and crashed into a police cruiser, tearing the grille from the car. Police then put up barricades and surrounded the dark-colored Chevrolet sedan when it came to a stop.

Charging documents said officers smashed out her windows while trying to get Everett out of the car, but she put the car into gear and tried to drive again. Officers then opened fire, which caused two bullet marks on the front windshield of the Chevrolet.

No one was hurt.

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"During the attempt to arrest the individual, shots were fired," Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Maleki said at a news conference Wednesday. 

Video from the scene showed officers putting Everett, a small young woman who was wearing a teal sweatshirt, into a police van.

A woman who was headed to the Capitol to visit her congressman found herself near the mayhem.

"We saw somebody running and we heard three shots fired," Linda Yanta told NBC News. "We did not know what was going on or who was shooting."

The Capitol Building was not closed as it all unfolded. Independence Avenue was closed between Washington Avenue and 1st Street SW for hours. The public was asked to avoid the area.

Everett's Family Describes Mental Illness

Everett's aunt, Bonnie Everett, told News4 that Teleah Everett had serious mental health issues. The former Ballou High School student from Southeast D.C. had been diagnosed with bipolar depression and had psychotic behavior, she said.

Family members of Taleah Everett say they tried to get mental health help before Everett allegedy drove into a police cruiser during an attempted traffic stop near the U.S. Capitol. Everett was charged with assault on a police officer, destruction of property and leaving after a collision. News4's Pat Collins reports.

Her family was desperate for help and tried to get help several times. Less than two weeks ago, Everett's aunt filed a petition at a Prince George's County courthouse for an emergency health evaluation. A judge denied the request, the young woman's aunt said.

“We know that she needs help. Unfortunately the judge didn’t see that, and this is the result of her not getting the care that we know she desperately needed," she said.

U.S. Capitol Police fired shots during a confrontation with a woman driver just south of the Capitol building. News4 was on the scene.

Everett was due in court Monday on domestic violence charges, but she never appeared.

A family friend said her heart ached for the young woman's family.

"The whole family is sweet, the whole family got structure," Helen Butler said. She said her daughter saw Everett driving erratically Sunday night. The car she drove then and also on Monday was her mother's, Butler said.

NBC4's Scott MacFarlane reports on how the House of Representatives staff reacted to the traffic accident and shots fired on Capitol Hill.

Previous Incidents at the Capitol

In October 2013, 34-year-old Miriam Carey was shot and killed by law enforcement after she hit a security barrier and a Secret Service officer outside the White House, leading police on a chase that ended near the Capitol. The dental hygienist who drove to D.C. from Connecticut had her 1-year-old daughter in the car. The child was not hurt.

Her family later said she had been suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis. Police in Stamford, Connecticut, said Carey had reported that she believed former President Barack Obama had her under surveillance.

One year ago, a Capitol Police officer shot and injured a man who brought a weapon into the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Larry R. Dawson, 66, was known to law enforcement and frequented the Capitol grounds.

A Maryland lawmaker speaks about the dangers U.S. Capitol police face every day after a woman was shot at after police say she drove erratically at officers. News4’s Jackie Bensen reports.

What Capitol Police See 

Hundreds of dangerous drivers have been stopped near the Capitol in recent years. The News4 I-Team found about 300 cases of drivers stopped for driving under the influence on Capitol grounds since 2014. Additionally, people were found to have been driving without licenses and with drugs in the vehicles.

U.S. Capitol Police have jurisdiction spanning several blocks around the Capitol Building itself. Congressional leaders say that's because they want to stop threats before they get close to this focal point of the U.S. government.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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