Lawsuit claims officer who shot Terrence Sterling fired a round inside police cruiser
WASHINGTON - The lawyers representing the family of Terrence Sterling have claimed in a new filing that the D.C. Police officer who shot and killed the motorcyclist in September 2016 fired more rounds than has previously been disclosed.
In an opposition motion for partial judgment, Jason Downs writes, "It is expected that Defendant Trainer may claim that he did not intentionally shoot Terrence in the back. This is because, based on information and belief, Defendant Trainer fired several shots, one of which hit the inside of his own police cruiser."
It's a claim that, if true, has never been disclosed by the Metropolitan Police Department or the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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Both declined to comment for this story. Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck cited pending litigation.
Shortly after Sterling's death, the D.C. Medical Examiner said the 31-year-old had been shot in the neck and back, but declined to clarify if the wounds came from one or two bullets.
Months later, on August 9, 2017, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a press release that Sterling had been shot twice "in the right side and neck". There is no mention of a third or even a fourth round being fired.
If in fact Trainer did fire more than two rounds, and one hit the inside of his cruiser, it raises a number of questions. Did Officer Trainer have his handgun out before Sterling's motorcycle hit the side of the cruiser? Was his hand on the trigger before he was ready to fire? That's something police experts say officers are trained never to do.
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If the claim of an additional round being fired is true, it also raises the question of Officer Trainer's training. His body worn camera was not turned on until after the shooting.
The evidence has shown Terrence Sterling was unarmed and had both hands on his motorcycle when he was shot.
A D.C. Police Use of Force Board has already concluded the shooting of Terrence Sterling was "unjustified" and the department has told the officer he will be fired. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked Trainer to resign, but Trainer has told the department he wants to be heard at an internal trial board, which is now tentatively scheduled for February.
In a separate filing, the D.C. Attorney General's Office says the parties have begun "meaningful settlement negotiations."
Brian Trainer has never publicly told his side of the story, and the U.S. Attorney's Office has concluded that there was "insufficient evidence" to prove a crime had been committed or that Sterling's civil rights had been violated.
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According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Terrence Sterling was intoxicated and speeding through the city on his motorcycle in the early morning hours of September 11, 2016 when Officer Trainer and Officer Jordan Palmer decided to chase him eventually blocking his path at the intersection of 3rd and M Streets NW, where the shooting took place.
Officer Trainer was in the passenger seat of the cruiser when he opened fire. Witnesses have told FOX 5 the two crossed paths simultaneously, and Trainer fired through his open window after Sterling's motorcycle hit the passenger door of the police car.