D.C. Police Use of Force Review Board determines Terrence Sterling shooting unjustified

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Chief of Police of the Metropolitan Police Department, Peter Newsham, announced on Monday that the department's Use of Force Review Board found that the shooting of Terrence Sterling was unjustified.

"They make a determination as to whether or not MPD policy was violated," he said. "In this case, they determined that policy was violated."

The announcement comes just a few months after the U.S. Attorney's Office determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge MPD Police Officer Brian Trainer.

Sterling, 31, was shot and killed Officer Brian Trainer in the early hours of September 11, 2016.

Police said they 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.

Shortly after, the family filed a $50 million civil lawsuit, claiming police blocked Sterling with the cruiser, which is violation of a general order. It goes to claim that this made a collision unavoidable.

It also stated that Officer Trainer used excessive force.

Attorney General Karl Racine would not say much about the lawsuit, but did say the review board's determination will be relevant to the approach they take with the lawsuit.

"I think a result that's fair for the district and fair for the family is likely to be had," he said.

Chief Newsham would not say on Monday which policy Officer Trainer violated.

He said the board's ruling was handed off to their Disciplinary Review Office, which will send out a notice of proposed adverse action with a recommendation of termination.

That will be given to Officer Trainer and he can decide whether or not it should go to a hearing, which Chief Newsham anticipates will happen.

He said if Officer Trainer then decides to appeal the outcome of the hearing, which will likely happen in February, the case will go to him.

Chief Newsham said due to the lawsuit, he has not been able to speak to the Sterling family.

"I am very empathetic to the fact that they lost a son, they have been incredibly patient throughout this entire proceeding," he said. "I know during the holiday season it’s probably particularly difficult for them not to have their son around."

Mayor Muriel Bowser had previously said that she thought it was best for Officer Trainer to step down.

When asked during Tuesday's press conference if she had the authority to fire the officer, she said she did not.

"What I hope the community understands is that we’ve done exactly what we said we were going to do, in being transparent and following the law and seeing it through until the end."

The Sterling family's attorney released a statement from Terrence's father, Isaac:

"Our family has continued to pray that the truth will come to light. We are encouraged by the Use of Force Review Board’s finding that Terrence’s killing was unjustified, which brings us one step closer to finding justice for Terrence’s death. We will continue to stay in prayer that Brian Trainer is never in a position to take someone else’s life and cause another family the pain we feel every single day."