WASHINGTON - A witness to the shooting of Terrence Sterling, a Prince George’s county man was shot to death by D.C. police early last Sunday morning while riding his motorcycle, talks to FOX 5 about what she saw that early morning.
All week long FOX 5's Paul Wagner has been investigating the case. It all started last Sunday morning around 4:20 a.m. when D.C. police say an officer observed a motorcycle being driven "recklessly" near the intersection of 17th and U streets northwest.
The exact route he took that morning is unknown, but according to his employer he had been at a bachelor party and was heading home to Fort Washington. But, if he was to take the most direct route he would have gone down Florida Ave. to New Jersey Ave. and then to the light at third and M streets NW, and that’s where he was heading, perhaps to the third street tunnel.
A witness, Kandace Simms, says she was sitting at the light at third and M street that morning, she says she was in the right lane with her windows rolled down, she has just picked up a friend and they were headed to the third street tunnel when she says all of the sudden she heard a motorcycle coming up alongside her in the left hand lane. She then saw a police cruiser without its lights or siren on pull into the intersection blocking the path of the motorcycle, and the collision she said was unavoidable, the motorcycle driver then revved the engine as if he was trying to get away, then the window came down on the passenger side of the police cruiser and shots were fired.
“It wasn't like a big impact, he wasn't speeding it didn't seem to me, there were no skid marks there was nothing like that, their intent was to block this man - from what I can tell and that's why he hit it.”
That was a witness account, but when Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham gave his account to reporters later that morning - his version was slightly different, “at approximately 4:20 a.m. there was a report of a motorcycle that was being driven erratically, officers found the vehicle over here in the intersection of third and M street northwest which is about a block north of New York Avenue, they were able to stop the vehicle, the person who was riding the motorcycle attempted to flee and ended up striking the police car and at that point shots were fired.”
The very next day, Monday afternoon, Mayor Bowser told reporters she had called Terrence Sterling’s parents to offer her condolences and revealed one of the officers had violated a general order.
"Our preliminary review does not show any camera footage prior to the shooting incident,” Bowser said during a press conference.
Hilton Burton, a retired D.C. police captain familiar with the current general orders of the police department says it appears the officers involved may have broken more than one rule.
"One of MPD's general orders specifically states you cannot roadblock in a vehicle, you cannot box it in it's a danger," said Burton. On top of the fact it's also a violation to fire at a moving vehicle.
Anthony Dixon has known Terrence Sterling since he was five years old and hired him to work for his company when he was 19-years-old.
"To hear the story that they put out was totally a shock to me because it is not Terrence’s character--I was sick in 2015 and he took over the business and if it wasn't for Terrence we wouldn't have a business right now because he stood in form me and he was more than an employee, he was a brother and a very good friend of mine,” Dixon told FOX 5.
According to a police report, no weapon was found at the scene. Sterling was shot once in the neck and died at Howard university hospital. Autopsy results are still pending, according to medical examiners.
There are many unanswered questions surrounding the death of Terrence Sterling, who was shot by a DC police officer on September 11, 2016. Here is what we know so far.