DC releases body camera footage related to fatal shooting by police

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WASHINGTON, DC — Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser authorized the release of body-worn camera (BWC) video related to the fatal shooting of a man in Northwest D.C., along with the name of the officer who shot the man.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice (DMPSJ) Kevin Donahue released an almost five minute long BWC video that began “shortly after” Metropolitan Police Department Officer Brian Trainer, 27, a four-year veteran, shot Terrence Sterling, 31, of Fort Washington, Md. Donahue said that Trainer did not turn on his BWC until after the shooting.

The shooting occurred just before 4:30 a.m. near 3rd and M Streets, NW on September 11, 2016. Police said one officer had spotted a motorcycle driving erratically in the area and were attempting to stop Sterling at that intersection. Investigators said Trainer shot Sterling when Sterling rammed his motorcycle into a police cruiser. However, some witnesses have said that the police were attempting to block Sterling and the crash was unavoidable.

The start of Trainer's BWC video shows one officer standing over Sterling, whose body lays on the sidewalk, his legs still wrapped around the motorcycle. Trainer goes into the cruiser to grab what appears to be a first aid bag, while the other officer begins chest compressions. At times, the officer performing the compressions can be heard yelling, “Look at me”, at Sterling.

The release of the video was met by strong condemnation by the chairman of the D.C. Police Union Matthew Mahl. In a written statement he added that releasing Trainer’s name was “…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…”

When the video was released, about a dozen people had gathered at the intersection where Sterling was killed and demanded more answers. They complained the video doesn’t answer what led up to the shooting.

"The video is very graphic. It was hard to watch,” said Griffin Smith. "Nobody wants to see the after the fact, we want to see what happened."

The protesters then marched to MPD headquarters and protested to demand the release of the officer that was driving the police cruiser and for an independent investigation by the Department of Justice.

In the news release from the DMPSJ’s office that accompanied the video, it stated that the release of this video was "is in the spirit of accountability and transparency; it is not intended to show a presumption of a violation of MPD policy or District law. Those determinations will be made at the conclusion of the concurrent investigations underway by MPD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office."

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