MPD Releases body-worn camera (BWC) footage and officer’s name involved in the the shooting death of 31 year old Terrence Sterling on Sept. 11th

From a press release:

“Today, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue released information related to the September 11, 2016 officer-involved shooting. The information released today includes the body-worn camera (BWC) footage and the name of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer who discharged his service weapon resulting in the death of Terrence Sterling, a 31-year old resident of Fort Washington, Maryland. The release of the information was authorized by Mayor Muriel Bowser, who deemed the BWC footage to be in the public interest and consistent with the goals of the District’s BWC program to create broader accountability between law enforcement and communities, and to maintain open and transparent government.

On Sunday, September 11, at approximately 4:20 a.m., MPD officers observed a motorcycle driving erratically in the vicinity of 15th and U Streets, NW. Just before 4:30 a.m., MPD’s ShotSpotter, a technology system that can detect the sound of gunfire in an area, identified the sound of possible gunfire near 3rd and M Streets, NW. The BWC footage released today begins shortly after the shots were fired and shows the officers providing medical assistance to Mr. Sterling.

Two Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) Department ambulances were dispatched at 4:30 a.m. One ambulance left its fire station located one block away and arrived on the scene shortly thereafter; a second ambulance arrived approximately five minutes after dispatch. FEMS personnel transported Mr. Sterling to Howard University Hospital, arriving at 4:45 a.m. Mr. Sterling was pronounced at the hospital.

One officer was equipped with a BWC. That officer, Brian Trainer, 27 years old and a four-year member of MPD, discharged his service weapon. The BWC was not activated until some moments after the shooting.

The BWC footage released today is from Officer Trainer’s BWC. Yesterday, Mayor Bowser consulted with Channing Phillips, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, and Karl Racine, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia on her decision to publicly release the BWC. This morning, Mayor Bowser and Deputy Mayor Donahue provided a briefing to the Council of the District of Columbia on the release.

Please note, once a camera is activated, the standard BWC technology automatically captures the immediately preceding 30 seconds of video, but not audio. All times cited above are approximate. The release of information from this incident is in the spirit of accountability and transparency; it is not intended to show a presumption of a violation of MPD policy or District law. Those determinations will be made at the conclusion of the concurrent investigations underway by MPD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

30 Comment

  • So this isn’t particularly helpful, other than to show the officers seemed to make a real effort to provide emergency care.

    • I find this video to be very disturbing and I don’t agree with its being released to the public over the internet. While I agree that there is a need for transparency and accountability, the public’s right to know doesn’t mean anyone with a web browser should be privy to this type of footage.

      I think the police should have a viewing room at the police station where people (anyone) can sign in and review the footage. But making this public on the interwebs seems like it is voyeuristic and invades the privacy of the deceased.

      My reason for this comment is merely because I think we as human beings are becoming too desensitized to dead or dying bodies and blood and gore. Frankly, I’d like it if we were all horrified by this scene, but we’re not because we’ve now seen enough lifeless bodies to view it as if it’s just a movie on a screen. Nope, that’s a real person there and his life (whatever his crimes may or may not be) should be respected as a human being.

      • Having the ability to keep tabs on people that are viewing this footage (coming to a police station, signing in and out) with access completely controlled by the police is an absolutely terrible idea. And for the record I’m a 90s kid. I grew up watching rated R movies and playing violent video games. I still find these events horrifying.

      • No way. People should see what public servants are doing in our name and with our tax dollars. Some are doing a great job and others are routinely violating Constitutional rights. Don’t sugar coat it.
        Those who violate rights should be scared that footage of them will be available for all of the public to see. I think it will cause some to think twice about doing some otherwise awful things behind a badge.

      • I’m not sure I agree with the police retaining full control over who can see this footage, but I do agree with you on the point that this ought to horrify anyone who sees it. I can’t really bring myself to watch more than a few seconds because of the blood, HIS blood, his life force leaving his body. It’s very easy to equate it with what we see so often on TV, and I hope those who view it remember the humanity of the person depicted.

  • “On Sunday, September 11, at approximately 4:20 a.m., MPD officers observed a motorcycle driving erratically in the vicinity of 15th and U Streets, NW. Just before 4:30 a.m., MPD’s ShotSpotter, a technology system that can detect the sound of gunfire in an area, identified the sound of possible gunfire near 3rd and M Streets, NW. The BWC footage released today begins shortly after the shots were fired and shows the officers providing medical assistance to Mr. Sterling.”
    .
    The wording used above gives the impression that MPD is using Shotspotter activity as an implicit reason for the officer-initiated shooting. Was there really Shotspotter activity in that area that wasn’t caused by officer Trainer?

    • While I don’t think it is worded well, I don’t think that’s how it reads. I think the shot spotter confirms the shooting at the time of the video.

      • That was my read. The shotspotter and the time stamp on the video are both unbiased and independent of the officer’s recollections.

      • Agreed; it definitely isn’t worded clearly. If you go read the original MPD crime description (linked in the post above), you can see that the motorcyclist tried to run over the officer by intentionally driving into the passenger door, which is what caused the officer to fire his weapon. The Shotspotter is referencing the shots by the officer, not possible shots that the officer is responding to.

        • > you can see that the motorcyclist tried to run over the officer by intentionally driving into the passenger door, which is what caused the officer to fire his weapon

          No, you can see that that’s what MPD said later to cover up for their drive-by murder. What eyewitnesses on the scene said is that the cruiser (without lights or sirens on) cut off a moving motorcycle, then the officer rolled down his passenger window and opened fire while Terrence was trying to get away.

          Given that the police had their camera off in express violation of a general order, were pursuing a vehicle in violation of both a general order and explicit instructions, and were using their cruiser to block the motorcycle in express violation of a general order — and this is only what we know for sure — I know which version of the story sounds more plausible to me.

          • Dear lord, I’m not going to get into that. This was merely to show the Anon above that MPD wasn’t saying that they were using a Shotspotter report as a means for justifying discharge of a service weapon. I’m not going to argue official report v. eyewitness report, especially with someone as angry as you seem.

          • Tsar of Truxton

            I obviously don’t know what happened, but I would caution anyone from taking eyewitness reports as the gospel. I don’t doubt that from time to time police cover up misconduct, but I also know that most eyewitnesses are completely unreliable and may have an agenda of their own. My guess is the truth lies somewhere in between.

          • +1 Tsar of Truxton

          • I think we have different ideas of what “plausible” means.

    • Also, isn’t ShotSpotter notoriously bad as far as false positives (things that aren’t gunshots being flagged as such)? It doesn’t look like the company releases these statistics, but according to

      http://www.wnyc.org/story/311533-gunshot-detection-sensors-newark-result-17-arrests-over-three-years/

      75% are false positives.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Why wasn’t the BWC activated sooner? Seems sort of pointless to have it if it’s only activated after something happens.

    • This was discussed pretty extensively already, but basically the protocol is to turn on the camera when contact is initiated. In this case because the contact was sudden and unexpected and occurred while the officers were still in the car, it’s not clear that it would be a violation of the protocol. Even if it were, it’s hard to blame the officer when things happen so quickly.
      .
      The reason for that protocol is storage constraints. The amount of data generated by having the cameras recording all the time would simply be far too large to store under any reasonable budget constraint.

      • I wonder if there is a way to link the camera to the officer’s holster.

        In other words, a sensor, so that when the gun is drawn, the camera goes on.

        That way, the officer doesn’t have to worry about remembering to turn the camera on during a frantic situation and there is no “convenient excuse” of not having remembered to turn it on.

        (PS, I’m not implying the officer did anything wrong here. Was just trying to think of a tech solution to the camera memory problem)

        • Good idea and should be easy technically.

        • The whole point of the camera is to film the encounter between cop and civilian from the initial approach…so linking a camera to activate once a weapon is drawn does not give insight as to why they are doing so in the first place. It definitely would not have served any purpose here, but one thing I find troubling but not surprising is that they have conveniently been leaving out of the recent stories the dispatcher telling these officers not to continue their pursuit of these guys….but they did it anyways. They could have continued on about their way and this guy could have made it home. He was at a Bachelors Party so I suspect he may have been a little tipsy but coherent enough to get that far away from the NW DC area. He would have been gone had he made it to the 3rd St Tunnel and probably made it home.

          I think police just need to police and stop trying to be the judge, jury, and executioner all in one unless there is a REAL threat and in most of these cases I see poor judgement by a few rogues, which in turn is a poor reflection on the Police Department as a whole.

  • This just don’t make any sense- I’ve seen these bikers try and out run the cops- and more than likely this guy was just trying to escape vs trying to run an officer down. Glad they rendered aid- but he was losing way to much blood to fast.

    • I think the big question here is whether the officer shot the motorcyclist off his bike while the cyclist was fleeing. Cops can’t shot motorcyclists who are merely fleeing. Big no no. If the bullet is in the motorcyclist’s back, I can guarantee we taxpayers will be paying a 7 figure settlement to this man’s family.

    • They say they rendered aid, but who knows? They only had to keep up appearances enough to confuse viewers of the BWC footage.

      • Did you watch the video? It’s pretty clear they are working hard to revive him.

        • It might have been better though if they didn’t shoot him in the first place… Just saying… :l

          I recall a few months back when people on here were saying how bikers were a nuisance and that they should be stopped at all costs… I think those same people should take a look at this and consider if they’d own up to that responsibility now… Even if the guy was running form cops, did it warrant loss of his life?

          Watch the video and realize how much your blind commentary has when it’s actually carried out in real life, and then maybe those kinds of words might be considered more carefully before they’re typed next time.

        • Working yes….working hard I don’t know about that one unless they just didn’t know what they were doing.
          -13 year firefighter/EMTB

  • I couldn’t watch the entire video because seeing another human being laying in the street surrounded by blood is disturbing. Police officers have a difficult job and they put their lives on the line daily. I support law enforcement. However, the police shootings and riots around the country is disturbing to watch on television. I no longer watch the cable news channels. It’s a matter of time before we see riots here in Washington. The United States is more divided by race, the presidential election, and police shootings. I am sadden to see these things happening, and I still have hope in mankind. I hope Mayor Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia are paying attention.

  • Police work seems to be an incredibly tough job. Not only the work itself but then to have key, high stress, moments videoed for the rest of the world observe, scrutinize, question and debate. Use of video does seem necessary with all that is going on. At the same time, and having know idea what law enforcement gets paid except that it is in government salary range, it seems they should probably be getting paid more for this (which will also attract more high caliber recruits with the necessary mental poise).

  • MPD releasing the time of shotspotter and the time that the BWC cam started is them merely saying there wasn’t a huge delay from when the gun shot were detected and the officer BWC was activated.

  • This could get ugly. Cop didn’t turn on camera will be seen as a coverup. Doesn’t matter why to a mob. A weak mayor. Police chief stepping down. Race. This could (I stress, could) be a Baltimore/Ferguson.

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