Washington D.C. officials released body camera videos in the police-related shooting of Terrence Sterling, an unarmed man whose motorcycle crashed into a police squad car.
However, the body camera was turned off when the actual shooting occurred, sparking controversy and a change in police policy. The body camera footage only captures the aftermath of the September 11 shooting. The officer was identified as Brian Trainer.
Protests have ignited after witness accounts disputed the official police version of the shooting of Sterling, a VAC technician who was returning from a bachelor’s party when he was shot and killed by a Washington D.C. police officer.
The police press release on the shooting says, “At approximately 4:30 am, an officer observed a motorcyclist driving recklessly near the 1700 block of U Street, Northwest. A few minutes later, another MPD officer observed a motorcycle matching the same description near 3rd Street and M Street, Northwest. When the officer was exiting the passenger side of his marked police cruiser to stop the driver, the motorcyclist intentionally drove into the passenger door and the officer fired his service weapon. The motorcyclist, identified as 31-year-old Terrence Sterling, of Fort Washington, Maryland, was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
However, witness accounts differ. According to NBC 4 Washington, “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.”
Sterling’s shooting was on September 11. The release of the video comes on the heels of protests and riots in Charlotte, North Carolina, over the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. However, in that case, police say that Scott was armed with a gun, an account the family disputes. A third shooting death, of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has also provoked controversy. Crutcher, who was unarmed, was shot after police encountered him when his SUV broke down on a highway. The police officer who shot Crutcher has been charged criminally with manslaughter in that case.
The Sterling shooting is still under investigation. The case has drawn the interest of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said of it, according to Patch: “There was an incident yesterday where Terrence Sterling was murdered, unarmed black man, I mean, once again. It’s become habitual. It’s an issue and needs to be addressed because it continues to happen, and every time it’s administrative leave, that’s not right. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and policies need to be changed to address that.”