Officer Brian Trainer Will Not Face Charges in 2016 Shooting of Terrence Sterling

Councilmember Allen and Mayor Bowser Issue Statements in Response to Announcement by Office of US Attorney General Finding Insufficient Evidence

On Wednesday August 9, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or District of Columbia charges against Officer Brian Trainer of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Trainer fatally shot 31 year-old Terrence Sterling on Sept. 11, 2016 in Northwest Washington.

On the day of the shooting, Sterling was first noticed by police while riding his motorcycle on U Street NW. The chronology provided in a press release from the Attorney General’s Office states that while stopped at an intersection on U Street, Sterling looked in the direction of the officers who were also stopped in their marked cruiser at the intersection. Sterling then accelerated through that red light, running several more in the course of a seven-minute, 25-block high-speed chase.

At the corner of the 3rd and M Streets NW, the Attorney General’s Office says, Sterling stopped his motorcycle and police used their cruiser to block the intersection. Officer Trainer exited the passenger side of the cruiser with his gun drawn.

Sterling is said to have revved his motorcycle, then accelerated and turned it toward the cruiser’s exposed passenger side. The statement describes Trainer as partially outside the vehicle when it was hit by the motorcycle, which dented the passenger side door and bruised Trainer’s knee.

“The officer reacted by immediately firing two rounds at Mr. Sterling through his front passenger window.  The rounds struck Mr. Sterling in the right side and neck. The shooting was at approximately 4:27 a.m.,” said the statement by the Attorney General.

WUSA 9 reported that Trainer turned on his body camera as life-saving measures were administered to Sterling, two or three minutes after the shooting.

Sterling was pronounced dead after being transferred to Howard University Hospital.

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said in a statement that his heart goes out to the family and friends of Terrence Sterling:

"I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child or a sibling and then waiting more than nine months only to be told there will be no recourse through the judicial system. It is a tragedy that this exchange - which at minimum broke several MPD policies and practices - resulted in the loss of Mr. Sterling's life.”

He continued, “incidents such as this erode community trust in law enforcement. The District is not immune to concerns around use of force.”

Noting that he did not believe that the incident is representative of either the MPD or the city, Allen also expressed frustration that residents of the District do not have control over their own criminal justice system.

“It is wrong that federal entities prosecute local crimes. This further compounds the ability to heal and move forward through legislative oversight. Meaningful criminal justice reform is intimately tied to our autonomy as a community."

In her statement, Mayor Muriel Bowser offered her condolences to the family of Terrence Sterling. She said that it was unacceptable that the officer’s body-worn camera was not activated throughout the incident, an act that she noted was in violation of MPD policies.

“Without accountability in this case, we break trust with our community–rendering the District and MPD less safe and less strong.  I do not believe there can be real accountability if the officer remains on the force.”

Bowser said that the MPD was doing a disciplinary review, and that the MPD had asked for Officer trainer’s resignation.


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