James Brady's Death Ruled Homicide

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 8 2014 6:23 PM

Death of James Brady, Who Was Shot 33 Years Ago and Died This Week, Ruled Homicide

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Brady in 2011.

Larry Downing/Reuters

James Brady, the White House press secretary-turned-gun control activist who was shot in 1981 during John Hinckley's attempt to kill Ronald Reagan, died this week. Today the Virginia medical examiner's office ruled that Brady's death was a homicide. Per a New York Times reporter in Washington D.C., the D.C. police department is also "investigating" the death as a homicide.

The logical conclusion here is that John Hinckley may be charged with Brady's murder, though no one in a position of authority seems to have said as much. (From the Washington Post: "Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and that his office 'has no further comment at this time.'") Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 (he appears to only have been charged for his attacks on Reagan and a Secret Service officer who also survived after being shot). He is institutionalized at a D.C. psychiatric hospital—but he's allowed to leave to visit his mother, so perhaps a new prosecution is being pursued by a person or group that believes he's being treated with too much lenience.

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Of course, as one of my colleagues just pointed out, if he was insane when he shot Ronald Reagan, then he was insane when he shot James Brady, and that shouldn't change a psychiatric institution's evaluation of what he's allowed to do in 2014. But then a different colleague who has a law degree said a different jury might rule differently on the insanity question. Which is all to say: This story is developing.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.