DC officer who fatally shot motorcyclist should be fired, police panel rules

WASHINGTON — A D.C. Police Department panel is recommending that the officer who fatally shot a motorcyclist in 2016 be fired.

Officer Brian Trainer now has 10 business days to appeal the ruling from the panel of three police officials. Chief Peter Newsham will make the final decision.

Trainer shot Terrence Sterling after a chase through Northwest D.C. on the early morning of Sept. 11, 2016. Trainer, who is white, said he had shot the black 31-year-old because his police cruiser was being intentionally rammed with a motorcycle.

In August, a review board found that the shooting was “unjustified.” Others who testified during the police disciplinary panel’s hearing last month cast doubt on Trainer’s account.

The incident began in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, where, Trainer said, Sterling had run a red light in front of him and his partner, who was driving. After a chase, the officers confronted Sterling at Third and M streets Northwest, blocking his motorcycle.

In that confrontation, Trainer said, Sterling’s motorcycle made contact with the squad car’s passenger-side door as the officer was trying to exit, and that it was all applying pressure on his leg. Trainer fired two shots at the Fort Washington, Maryland, man.

The four-year veteran’s body camera was turned off at the time of the shooting.

Toxicology results later showed that Sterling’s blood alcohol content was 0.16, two times over the legal limit, and that he tested positive for THC.

In August, prosecutors said they would not charge him in the death. Sterling’s family settled their lawsuit against the District for $3.5 million in February.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has echoed protesters’ calls for Trainer’s dismissal.

“Without accountability in this case, we break trust with our community — rendering the District and MPD less safe and less strong,” Bowser said in an Aug. 9 statement. “I do not believe there can be real accountability if the officer remains on the force.”

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