US police to investigate James Brady death as homicide

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The death of President Ronald Reagan’s aide James Brady has been ruled a homicide, 33 years after he was wounded in an assassination attempt, police in Washington have said.

The former press secretary was shot in the 1981 attempt on Reagan’s life by John Hinckley Jr.

He suffered brain damage and partial paralysis and died this week at 73.

Hinckley has been confined to a psychiatric hospital since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

“We can confirm that the autopsy has been ruled a homicide and the Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the case,” spokesman Officer Hugh Carew told the BBC.

In a statement, the Metropolitan police said that Mr Brady’s remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the Northern District of Virginia.

“An autopsy was conducted and revealed the cause of death to be a gunshot wound and consequences thereof, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide,” it said.

Mr Brady died on Monday at the age of 73.

A lifelong Republican, he had served in the Nixon and Ford administrations and as a Senate aide before joining Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign.

‘Not guilty’

On 30 March 1981, John Hinckley Jr opened fire on the president’s party outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, striking four people, including Mr Brady and Reagan.

Mr Brady was shot in the head and was the most seriously wounded. Reagan was shot in one lung. A Secret Service agent and a police officer suffered lesser wounds.

Photos and video of the incident show the wounded press secretary sprawled on the ground as Secret Service agents rushed the president into his vehicle and others wrestled Hinckley to the ground.

The former press secretary suffered brain damage, partial paralysis, short-term memory impairment and slurred speech.

Hinckley was tried and found not guilty due to insanity. Since the trial he has been committed to a Washington DC psychiatric hospital, but has been allowed to spend limited time at his mother’s home.

Mr Brady, who served in three Republican administrations, became an advocate for stricter gun control.

He lobbied for legislation to require background checks for handgun sales. The so-called Brady Bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

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