Family of Terrence Sterling files a $50-million wrongful death lawsuit

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A $50 million civil lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the family of a man shot and killed by a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer in September.

The suit said that the family of Terrence Sterling, 31, of Fort Washington, Md., are seeking damages for the pain and suffering caused to Sterling and the family as a result of his death and changes to the MPD's training of officers on the use of body-worn cameras (BWC).

It names the officer that shot Sterling, an unnamed officer, the District of Columbia, and the MPD as defendants.

Sterling was shot and killed by MPD Officer Brian Trainer in the early hours of September 11, 2016. Police had been on the lookout for a motorcyclist driving erratically and attempted to stop Sterling, who was riding a motorcycle, near 3rd St. NW and M St. NW. Police said that Trainer shot Sterling after Sterling rammed his motorcycle into the police cruiser, but the complaint claimed that police blocked Sterling with the cruiser, which is violation of a general order. It goes to claim that this made a collision unavoidable.

The complaint added the claim that Trainer used “excessive force” and shot Sterling in the back and neck from his police cruiser, despite Sterling "being unarmed and having posed no danger” to the officers.

Trainer had a BWC on that night, but did not activate it until shortly after the shooting. The complaint blamed this on poor training on the part of the police department and city.

Following this shooting, Mayor Bowser did announce a change to the protocols surrounding the use and activation of BWCs.

Representatives for the mayor’s office and the police department both said they cannot comment on pending litigation.