WASHINGTON - The family of Terrence Sterling, the 31-year-old unarmed-African American man who in September 2016 was fatally shot by a D.C. police officer following a chase in the District, has reached a settlement agreement in the civil suit filed against D.C. government.
According to FOX 5's Paul Wagner, D.C. will pay the family $3.5 million. The Metropolitan Police department has ruled that the 2016 shooting of Terrence Sterling was unjustified.
"When something bad happens, we keep the public's trust by looking into what went wrong and taking steps to make things right," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in a statement released on Wednesday. "In the tragic death of Terrence Sterling, a family lost a beloved son and brother, and thus we have a duty to bring some sense of closure to his family. This settlement is a step in that direction. We can never say or do anything to bring Terrence back. But we can, and do, resolve to illuminate what went wrong and, with great determination, do what we can to ensure no family faces this pain. The respect and trust between the people and the government may face setbacks, but together we will ensure that it always endures."
"Mr. Sterling's death was a tragedy. We resolve to redouble our efforts to promote public safety and trust between police officers and the communities they protect in the District," said D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine in a statement. "While no amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, we are pleased that the parties in this case were able to come to a resolution. In this regard, we are especially grateful to former D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington, who mediated settlement discussions between the District and the family."
Authorities said Terrence Sterling, an HVAC technician from Fort Washington, Maryland, was riding his motorcycle recklessly in Northwest D.C. when officers spotted him at about 4:20 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2016.
Terrence Sterling was on his way home from a bachelor party and was likely headed for the 3rd Street Tunnel when witnesses say a D.C. police cruiser suddenly blocked his path at the intersection of 3rd and M streets and he collided with the vehicle.
At least one witness said the collision with the police cruiser appeared to be unavoidable and Sterling had his hands visible on the bike.
According to police, Officer Brian Trainer, a 4-year veteran of the force, fired at Terrence Sterling after his motorcycle struck the police cruiser. Police said no weapons were found on Terrence Sterling, who officials said was later to be determined to have a blood alcohol content of .16 and to also have THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system
Prosecutors said Terrence Sterling ran several red lights and was riding his motorcycle at times of an estimated speed of 100 miles per hour or more.
Terrence Sterling's family had kept their thoughts about the case to themselves until they sat down with FOX 5's Paul Wagner to discuss it and the settlement on Wednesday.
"The U.S. Attorney made, in what I believe, was a subjective decision based on what they felt they could not do and not on the basis of the evidence showed and that made me very angry," Isaac Sterling, Terrence Sterling's father told FOX 5. "Now we know that the internal affairs division of the Metropolitan Police Department made a determination that the shooting was unjustified. To me, that leaves an open wound and it is a bridge that I think they need to go back and look at this case because I don't think they did it justice."
In the video player above, you can watch FOX 5's exclusive interview with the Sterling family.
Crystal Sterling, the sister of Terrence Sterling, released the following statement to FOX 5:
"Good Afternoon Everyone! I'm Terrence's sister, Chrystal. And I would just like to first thank everyone that has supported my family and I over the past year and 5 months. It has been hard...but all of your prayers, encouraging words, and acts of kindness and love have helped us get through each day. There is not a day that goes by where I don't think about Terrence. I miss every aspect of his being. And the fact that he was taken from me by Brian Turner and Jordan Palmer. And...Yes! I did say both officers names because they worked together as partners in order for the murder to happen. There will always be void in heart that will never be filled due to the decisions of these two officers. The fact that U.S. Department of Justice intentionally did not bring us justice in this case is very disappointing. The system that you are to trust to bring justice instead has decided the cover the injustice despite facts and evidence that proves otherwise. Since the U.S. Department of Justice did not do their part, I pray that the Internal Affairs of DC Police Department will hold both officers accountable for their actions. Everyone involved in this case has had the opportunity to make a change, but it's frustrating to know that our justice system as a whole continues to create an atmosphere of division and puts officers that have committed crimes on a higher pedestal, too high to be held accountable. Despite all of this, I am grateful for God's guidance to get us through to this point. Though no amount of money will ever bring Terrence back, the compensation will assist in taking care of his family he has left behind. The settlement does not give me full closure, but a conviction of murder would come close. Despite the rollercoaster of feelings I've experienced, God and Terrence have been speaking to me. The main themes has been forgiveness and letting go. I've been caring around anger and hatred. With spiritual guidance and prayer I have come to the point where I can say that I forgive you....Brian Trainer, Jordan Palmer, and the DC judicial system. I hate the crime that was committed and the decisions of injustice made, but I have to forgive in order to move on. Forgiving gives me control instead of this situation controlling my life in a negative manner. It also allows me to be free and not be bound because I don't have my brother with me. So on this day I will no longer carry around the burden of your death but of the life and joy Terrence brought to me for 31 years. I'm letting go of the anger, hatred....all the negative energy related to your death and channeling positive energy into my life...a life full of happiness, joy, and peace which is what I know you would want me to do. I pray Brian Trainer and Jordan Palmer find God and develop a relationship with Him so they repent for the killing on His child, Terrence, and causing pain to our family and friends. I also pray that God continues to let His light shine through my family, myself, and all people who believe in order to spread love and kindness to each other despite race, ethnicity, gender, or religion. We are human and precious in God's sight. Love one another and treat others the way you want to be treated. Thank you for listening and God bless you."
Isaac Sterling wrote and released the following biography for his son: