Motorcyclist Fatally Shot by DC Cop Did Not Intentionally Ram Cruiser, Witnesses Say

D.C. police have changed the department's body camera policy following the shooting

What to Know

  • Witnesses say a motorcyclist fatally shot by a D.C. police officer did not intentionally drive into the officer's cruiser as police said.
  • Police said the officer was trying to get out of the passenger side of the cruiser when he shot the man, but witnesses say he was inside.
  • The officer didn't have his body camera on at the time and, as a result, the Metropolitan Police Department has changed its body cam policy.

A man who D.C. police say was fatally shot by an officer after he rammed his motorcycle into a police vehicle did not intentionally hit the cruiser, according to witnesses.

Police said the motorcyclist, 31-year-old Terrence Sterling, of Fort Washington, Maryland, purposely drove his bike into the passenger side of a police cruiser early Sunday morning as an officer was trying to get out of that side of the car.

The officer fired his service weapon, hitting Sterling, police said. Sterling was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

However, witnesses told police a different account of the crash.

Several witnesses said the collision was unavoidable and Sterling did not intentionally strike the cruiser. They also said the officer was not trying to get out of his car, but instead rolled his window down and shot Sterling from inside the car after the crash.

Police have acknowledged the officer who fired the fatal shot did not turn his body camera on until after he fired his weapon. He and the officer who was driving the cruiser have been place on administrative leave.

Thursday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a change to the city's body camera policy in response to the shooting.

"We have immediately implemented procedures to ensure that body worn cameras are being activated properly and as intended by the body worn camera protocol," Bowser said. "Dispatchers began reminding officers to turn on their body worn cameras when they are dispatched to calls for service."

The Metropolitan Police Department said the shooting is still under investigation.

"This is an investigation. You have to get all the evidence. You have to get all the witness testimony," said Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham.

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