Brian Trainer was identified by Washington D.C. officials as the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man who had crashed into his squad car.
The death of Terrence Sterling, 31, on September 11 has sparked calls for transparency and led to changes in police body camera policy. Sterling is pictured above.
In addition to releasing the officer’s name, Washington D.C. officials released body camera videos on September 27 in the police-related shooting of Sterling, an unarmed man.
Sterling’s shooting was on September 11. The release of the officer’s name and the video comes after rising tensions in the United States over two other recent police shootings. Protests and riots occurred 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.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Officer’s Body Camera Was Turned off Until After the Shooting, Reports Say
One element of the shooting death that has been a focal point for controversy: The body camera was turned off when the actual shooting occurred. The city did release the video from the shooting’s aftermath. Warning, it’s graphic.
The body camera footage only captures the aftermath of the September 11 shooting.
There was some citizen cell phone video of the scene’s aftermath also. See above.
Trainer previously received a firearms training award from the police department.
2. Protesters Have Demanded Justice for Sterling, Who Was Returning From a Bachelor Party
Protests grew 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.
His employer described him to Fox 5 as patient and kind, a man who never grew angry.
At the scene, some were troubled:
Trainer has been on the D.C. force for four years. He is 27-years-old.
3. Police Say Sterling ‘Intentionally Drove’ Into the Officer’s Squad Car
The police press release on the shooting says that, “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.”
Police say that Sterling crashed into the squad car purposely.
“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 news release says. “The motorcyclist, identified as 31-year-old Terrence Sterling, of Fort Washington, Maryland, was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
4. Eyewitnesses Said the Officer Was Inside the Squad When He Shot Sterling, Reports Say
However, witness accounts differ from the official police version of events. 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.”
Fox 5 quoted witness Kandace Simms, sitting in her car waiting for a green light, as saying that Sterling crashed into the squad, and “the collision in her opinion was unavoidable. She tells FOX 5 Sterling then revved the engine, and appeared to be trying to find a way to drive off when the window on the passenger side of the marked cruiser rolled down, and the officer in the passenger seat fired two shots.”
5. Colin Kaepernick Has Spoken out About Sterling’s Death
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.”