UPDATE, August 8, 2 PM: Multiple TV news outlets, including local broadcasters and NBC News are confirming the District of Columbia medical examiner has ruled Monday’s death of James Brady was a homicide, opening up the possibility gunman John Hinckley Jr could be charged in federal court. Brady was President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary when he was shot in the head during Hinckley’s attempt to assassinate Reagan in March of 1981.
“BREAKING: D.C. authorities determine James Brady was the victim of a homicide — from John Hinckley’s gunshot in 1981,” Tweeted NBC Nightly News, for example, adding later, “MORE: Homicide ruling has the potential to open the door to federal murder charges against John Hinckley.”
The medical examiner said Brady died as a result of the injuries he suffered 33 years ago. The shooting left Brady partically paralyzed and in a wheelchair and with slurred speech. Hinckley, it was reported by various outlets at the time of Brady’s death, remains institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital, though he has been allowed to visit his mother for days at a time.
PREVIOUS: Monday PM: James Brady, the thumb-up White House press secretary who became a crusader for gun control legislation after being critically wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan, died this morning at age 73. TV news orgs noted his death throughout the day in various ways, including coverage of the statement made by current White House spokesman Josh Earnest during the daily press briefing:
“He is somebody who I think really revolutionized this job and, even after he was wounded in that attack on the President, was somebody who showed his patriotism and commitment to the country by being very outspoken on an issue that was important to him and that he felt very strongly about,” Earnest told reporters from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named to honor the man who was left partially paralyzed in the attack. (The hotel that Reagan had just exited at the time of the assassination attempt was very unofficially nicknamed the Hinkley Hilton after the man who fired the shots. It’s where the annual orgy of obsequiousness known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is held.) Here is Earnest’s statement to the press:
Earnest also participated today in a rare Washington occurrence — a joint statement from Brady’s successors:
“Jim set the model and standard for the rest of us to follow. It’s been a genuine honor for each of us to stand at the podium in the briefing room that will always bear his name,” they said in a statement under the names of Earnest, Jay Carney, Robert Gibbs, Dana Perino, Scott McClellan, Ari Fleischer, Jake Siewert, Joe Lockhart, Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myers, Marlin Fitzwater and Ron Nessen.
A popular figure among Beltway journalists, Brady was also the subject of an HBO movie. To note his death, many news orgs dusted off the news clip of the shooting on March 30, 1981. Replayed incessantly on TV in the days that followed, the clip shows Brady lying on the ground with a head wound as the injured Reagan was hustled into his limousine. Years later, Brady told the Associated Press that he wanted to put every frame of the film “in a cement incinerator, slosh them with gasoline and throw a lighted cigarette in”: