DC police in talks over resignation of officer cleared in ’16 shooting of black motorist

WASHINGTON — D.C. police officials are now discussing the resignation of the officer who federal investigators cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in a 2016 deadly shooting.

The discussions come after the mayor called for Officer Brian Trainer’s resignation, breaking with the department’s initial decision to place him on administrative leave as it conducted an internal review into the death of Terrence Sterling, a black motorcyclist who was shot and killed after leading police on a 25-block chase last September.

Prosecutors announced on Wednesday that Trainer would not face criminal charges.

“When he is deciding whether or not to resign, he needs to consider the family and the impact this could potentially have on the city. Those are the things I would like them to consider when he’s deciding whether or not he wants to say at MPD,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said to NBC Washington.

Department officials have been in touch with Trainer’s lawyer to discussion his possible resignation, said Dustin Sternbeck, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department.

Sterling, who was legally drunk and had marijuana in his system, sideswiped a police car and was shot in the side and neck in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2016, at the intersection of 3rd and M streets Northwest.

Minutes after federal investigators announced Trainer was cleared on Wednesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser released a statement that conflicted with the police department’s statement, saying the department was asking for the officer’s resignation.

Bowser doubled down on the need for Trainer’s departure from the department on Thursday.

“I believe if there is no accountability in this incident, we break trust with our community,” Bowser said.

“We do have the responsibility to look at our policies and procedures and make sure that they are being followed … but as we do that, we think it would be better for the force and for our community if the officer resigns.”

The Fraternal Order of Police which serves as the officers’ union said no one can comment while the administrative review is underway. WTOP was unable to reach Trainer’s attorney.

Sterling’s death led to protests and attracted attention from activists concerned about police brutality. Sterling was a heating and air-conditioning technician from Fort Washington, Maryland.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up