DC Officials Release Video From Shooting of Terrence Sterling

D.C. officials have released body camera footage that shows the moments after an officer shot and killed motorcyclist Terrence Sterling.

Sterling, 31, of Fort Washington, Maryland, died Sept. 11 after a Metropolitan Police Department officer shot him at 3rd and M streets NW. Police say the officer fired after Sterling intentionally rammed a police cruiser with his motorcycle.

Witnesses disputed the police department's account of the incident and said the crash was unavoidable. 

Police video here. WARNING: Video footage is extremely graphic and will be disturbing to some viewers.

The alarming, nearly 6-minute video released Tuesday afternoon shows Sterling bleeding on the ground, silent.

An officer takes off Sterling's jacket, shirt and helmet and performs CPR on him. A woman can be heard screaming.

"Come on, man, keep breathing," an officer is heard shouting. "Look at me. Keep looking at me."

The sound of ambulances approaching can be heard, and then the video ends.

A nearly 6-minute video released Tuesday afternoon shows Terrence Sterling bleeding on the ground after he was shot by a D.C. police officer. This clip is an excerpt; the full police video is here. WARNING: The complete video footage is extremely graphic and will be disturbing to some viewers.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser authorized the release of the video and deemed it to be "in the public interest and consistent with the goals of the District’s [body-worn camera] program to create broader accountability between law enforcement and communities, and to maintain open and transparent government," a statement from the District said. 

Officer Brian Trainer shot Sterling, the city said. Trainer, 27, is a four-year veteran of the police department. 

Police said the encounter began when an officer saw a motorcyclist driving recklessly about 4:20 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 near 15th and U streets NW. 

A few minutes later, Trainer saw a motorcycle near 3rd and M streets NW that matched the same description, police said.

As Trainer exited a police cruiser on the passenger side, intending to stop the driver, Sterling intentionally drove into the passenger door, police said.

Trainer then fired, hitting Sterling.

Two ambulances were dispatched at 4:30 a.m., city officials said. One ambulance left a fire station a block away and arrived moments later, officials said. The second ambulance arrived about 5 minutes after dispatch. 

Sterling was taken to Howard University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Trainer was not seriously hurt. He was placed on administrative leave, per department policy.

Police said in subsequent days that Trainer did not turn on his body camera until after he fired.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said 911 dispatchers now will remind officers to turn on their body cameras before they arrive at scenes.

The D.C. Police Union condemned "in the most vehement terms" the release of the video.

"This decision places these officers in danger of misguided retaliation fueled by a false media narrative, and is a completely unacceptable action," Chairman Matthew Mahl said in a letter to members. "The lives of our members are not pawns in some political game, to be thrown to anti-police special interest groups in the pursuit of an unlikely re-election bid for a flawed administration."

The release of the video undermines police recruiting "in an already volatile and anti-police environment nationwide," Mahl continued.

Demonstrators briefly blocked rush-hour traffic Monday morning, calling for answers from D.C. police on the fatal shooting on Sept. 11 of 31-year-old Terrence Sterling. “It’s been two weeks. We’ve gotten nowhere,” organizer Steven Douglass said. News4’s Derrick Ward reports.

Amid unrest across the country sparked by the shootings of black men by police officers, demonstrators at a protest in D.C. Monday morning called for answers and the release of the police footage.

"It's been two weeks. We've gotten nowhere," organizer Steven Douglass said Monday.

The investigation continues, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue said.

"The video does not answer all questions. The incident is still under review by MPD & the US Attorney's Office," he wrote on Twitter.

No determination has been made on whether the shooting was justified. 

Bowser said she is not aware of any video that shows the shooting itself.

In the past 30 days, D.C. police officers have activated body cameras 55,000 times, Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said following the shooting. There have been 10 instances when officers should have turned on their cameras and did not, Newsham said. No officers have been disciplined for failing to turn on their body cameras.

Protesters took to the streets again Tuesday afternoon, marching from the intersection where Sterling was killed to police headquarters. Members of the group said they want to know Trainer's history, the name of the officer who was driving the police cruiser and whether an additional body camera or a dashboard-mounted camera captured additional video footage. 

Newsham declined to say whether police have any additional footage.

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

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