WASHINGTON - FOX 5 has learned a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the fatal police-involved shooting of Terrence Sterling.
Sterling was shot and killed by D.C. police on Sept. 11 while riding his motorcycle during the early morning hours in Northwest D.C.
The $50 million lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court Thursday on behalf of Sterling's family against Brian Trainer, the officer who allegedly shot Sterling, an unidentified officer working with Trainer that morning, the Metropolitan Police Department and the District of Columbia.
According to police, two officers in a police cruiser spotted Sterling riding recklessly and attempted to pull him over near the 3rd Street Tunnel. Police say an officer fired at Sterling after he rammed his motorcycle into the police vehicle. Sterling was unarmed.
The medical examiner ruled Sterling's death as a homicide and that he died from gunshot wounds to the neck and back.
According to a press release from the law firm representing the Sterling family in the lawsuit:
"The complaint alleges that Metropolitan Police officer Brian Trainer shot Mr. Sterling in the back, killing Mr. Sterling from the safety of a police vehicle despite the fact that Mr. Sterling was unarmed and posed no danger to Officer Trainer or any other person.
"The complaint alleges that Officer Brian Trainer and his partner violated multiple Metropolitan Police Department General Orders in the moments leading to Mr. Sterling’s death. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that General Order 301.03 prohibits officers from placing themselves in front of an oncoming vehicle where deadly force would be the likely outcome. In spite of this General Order, officers unlawfully placed themselves in front of Mr. Sterling’s oncoming motorcycle.
"Additionally, the complaint alleges that General Order 301.03 also prohibits officers from intentionally causing contact between their police vehicle and a civilian’s vehicle, or attempting to force a civilian vehicle into another object or off the roadway. The officers violated this Order by intentionally blocking Mr. Sterling’s path of travel, causing contact with his motorcycle, and trapping his motorcycle between the police car and the curb. While Mr. Sterling was trapped between the curb and the police car, Officer Trainer unlawfully drew his gun, pointed it at Mr. Sterling, and shot him, using deadly force in violation of General Order 901.7.
"The complaint alleges that each of these violations independently caused the death of Terrence Sterling."
Trainer was identified as the D.C. police officer who fired his weapon. City officials say he was wearing a body camera, but failed to turn it on until after the shooting. The body camera footage that was recorded would later be released by Mayor Muriel Bowser.
"An additional claim alleges that Officer Trainer committed battery by using excessive force in shooting and killing Mr. Sterling. Inexplicably, there is no video from Officer Trainer’s body camera because the Metropolitan Police Department and the District of Columbia failed to properly train and supervise Officer Trainer and all MPD officers on the required use of body cameras and the appropriate use of force," the press release continued. "As a result, Officer Trainer did not activate his body camera to properly document Mr. Sterling’s death, which has deprived the Sterling family of valuable evidence depicting the circumstances leading to Mr. Sterling’s death."
In November, prosecutors with U.S. Attorney’s Office opened a grand jury investigation into this case.
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