By: Giovanni Zaburoni
Police in Washington D.C. have released body cam footage of an officer involved shooting that claimed the life of Terrence Sterling during the early morning hours of September 11. Black Lives Matter activists and civil rights demonstrators have been protesting and calling for the police department to be transparent with the community about what led to Sterling being shot and killed. The officer who shot Sterling, Brian Trainer, was wearing a body camera but he didn’t turn it on until after the shooting. In the video, you see Sterling on the ground bleeding heavily. Fox5 DC says Sterling was shot once in the neck. Footage shows Officer Trainer rushing to his car to get a first aid kit in an effort to keep him from dying. Trainer turns off the body camera as the ambulance arrives but Sterling was already in cardiac arrest as first responders took him to Howard University Hospital.
The official story coming from the police about what led to Sterling’s fatal shooting death is different than what witnesses say happened. Police say Sterling was driving his motorcycle recklessly when they spotted him around 4:20 in the morning. It’s important to note that two sources confirm a police supervisor “keyed his radio and told all units not to pursue Sterling” on his motorcycle, but Trainer and his partner decided to pursue him anyway, according to Fox5 DC. Officer say Sterling “intentionally” rammed his motorcycle into the passenger side door of the police cruiser while trying to flee a traffic stop. According to the Daily Mail, a witness named Kandace Simms says she was sitting in her car when she saw police pull into an intersection to block Sterling’s path. That’s when she says his bike slammed into the police vehicle. Simms says based on the officers’ actions, the crash was “unavoidable.” After the crash, Sterling appeared to try and drive away. That’s when Trainer shot him and according to the witness, police issued no commands to Sterling before shooting him and the lights and sirens on the vehicle were off.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says Trainer not turning on his body camera until after the shooting was against protocol. She also said investigators are looking into other actions that are considered violations: Using the police vehicle as a barricade to block the motorcycle and firing shots at a moving vehicle from inside the police car.
The D.C. Police Union Chairman Matthew Mahl is strongly condemning the mayor for allowing the release of the body cam footage and the identity of the officer that killed Sterling. In a statement, Mahl said, “Mayor Bowser’s decision to release the names of the officers involved in the incident is reckless to the extreme. This decision places these officers in danger of misguided retaliation fueled by a false media narrative, and is a completely unacceptable action. The lives of our members are not pawns in some political game, to be thrown to anti-police special interest groups in the pursuit of an unlikely re-election bid for a flawed administration.” He ended the statement by saying, “As always, be safe and watch each others’ backs.”
Since all these officer involved shooting started being caught on tape, the public has been calling on all the good cops to speak out against the bad cops in their departments. It’s definitely fine to “watch each others’ backs” like Mahl says but not at the expense of the communities they have sworn to protect and serve.