WASHINGTON - FOX 5 police sources confirm that the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man riding a motorcycle in D.C. were told by officials over the radio to break off any sort of chase or pursuit.
The motorcyclist, Terrence Sterling was seen riding his bike erratically near 17th and U Streets in Adams Morgan at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday. About ten minutes later, Sterling wound up at 3rd and M Streets where he was shot and killed. Police say Sterling struck the police cruiser as he was trying to get away, and was then shot by one of the two officers in the cruiser. Sterling was not armed.
FOX 5's Marina Marraco reports that driving erratically, as Sterling was said to have been doing, is considered a traffic offense and would not warrant a chase.
Photos taken by a witness appear to show the officers trying to boxing in the motorcyclist with their vehicles which Marraco again says would be a violation of general orders. In addition, firing at a moving vehicle would also constitute a violation of orders.
The investigation will now have to rely on radio transmissions and witness testimony because the officer's body camera was not turned on until after the shooting, Marraco says.
Hilton Burton, a former Metropolitan Police Department commander, who spent 26 years with the department and retired just two months ago after working with internal affairs, spoke to FOX about the investigation.
"As someone who has been in this job for 26 years - who has looked at police shootings all across this country - to sit here and say that the actions of these officers were totally wrong - I can't say that because I don’t know the entire facts of it. I don’t know what the thought process of the officers was," Burton said.
"What I can question is some of the sequence of events that occurred. As being reported, they spotted this vehicle and were told to break it off and they didn’t. If they tried to box this vehicle in and it’s a violation of the general order - that's another question that needs to be answered."
Burton also says there are questions surrounding whether or not the officers did something that caused the vehicle to ram theirs and put themselves in a position where they had to use deadly force.
Two officers have been placed on leave in connection to the fatal shooting. Once an internal review is done by D.C. Police the U.S. Attorney's Office will determine if the shooting was justified.