WASHINGTON - Protesters took to the streets over the death of a man shot and killed by D.C. police. The demonstration happened on 3rd and M Streets in Northwest at 4:19 a.m. Monday. That’s the exact minute police shot Terrence Sterling on September 11th while he was on his motorcycle near the 3rd Street tunnel. FOX 5 has learned that four days before sterling was shot -- by an officer who did not turn on his body camera -- another officer involved in a shooting on Georgia Avenue did the same thing.
A woman nearby recorded the shooting incident and her video shows a uniformed officer with a gun in his hand walking up on Georgia Avenue shouting at a man to drop his gun. According to a court document filed in the case, witnesses said Marc Jeffers was firing his weapon into the ground, at people and at least one SUV. The same document says the officer fired at least twice before Jeffers fell to the ground, with a gun at his side. None of that was recorded by the officer’s body worn camera because the camera wasn’t turned on.
“I don't want to say it's problematic. I believe it is one of those training issues. In one incident, you are a patrol officer in a grocery store and people start screaming the guy outside is shooting. We’re not trained, we haven't built that muscle memory yet to activate the camera. We go into life preservation mode and we are trying to identify where the threat is. We hear the gunshots,” said Matthew Mahl, the president of the D.C. Police Union.
Mahl said officers are told they are to turn on the camera as soon as they are dispatched to a call or begin a police-related interaction with the public. As for the shooting on Georgia Avenue, the officer should have turned on the camera as soon as he was made aware of the gunfire outside.
"So the plan we came up with is to incorporate real body cameras into our professional development training that officers have to do every year, and we have been using our tactical village for several years now and that is where we will emphasize the use of body-worn cameras and when to turn them on,” Mahl told FOX 5.
The police body camera is worn on an officer’s chest and with one push of a button, it is on and recording video and sound.