DC Police Department terminates officer who shot and killed motorcyclist in 2016

The D.C. Police Department denied the appeal of termination for Officer Brian Trainer, he shot and killed motorcyclist Terrence Sterling in 2016. File. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
WASHINGTON — The D.C. Police Department has denied the appeal of termination for an officer who shot and killed motorcyclist Terrence Sterling in 2016.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham denied Officer Brian Trainer’s attempt to appeal his recommended termination by an MPD trial board panel.

In August, a review board found that the shooting of Sterling was “unjustified” and others who testified during the disciplinary panel’s hearings cast doubt on Trainer’s account of events.

Trainer shot Sterling after a chase through Northwest D.C. on September 11, 2016. At the time, Trainer said that he shot the 31-year-old Fort Washington, Md. man because he was deliberately ramming his motorcycle into Trainer’s police cruiser.

Police said Sterling led officers on a chase for 25 city blocks while allegedly reaching speeds over 100 mph on his motorcycle, while narrowly missing pedestrians and cars.

After losing sight of him, Trainer and his partner caught up with Sterling on 3rd Street when they heard the sound of a motorcycle revving. The officers blocked the motorcycle at the intersection, facing it head on. Trainer took out his gun and opened the passenger door to get out.

According to Trainer’s telling of events, Sterling then accelerated toward the passenger side of the vehicle, crashing into the door. Trainer had not yet exited the vehicle completely and he fired two rounds at Sterling through the front passenger window, hitting Sterling.

A toxicology report showed that Sterling’s blood alcohol content was 0.16, which is two times over the legal limit. Sterling also tested positive for THC.

Trainer’s body camera was turned off at the time of the shooting.

Trainer will not face any criminal charges related to the shooting. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. said that there was not enough evidence to prove that Trainer violated Sterling’s rights by using more force than was necessary or that trainer was not acting in self defense.

Sterling’s family filed a $50 million wrongful-death suit against D.C. and the police department in December. The family eventually settled with the city for $3.5 million, the largest amount the city has ever paid involving the death of a citizen by police, according to the attorney representing the family.

The shooting led to protests and attracted national attention from activists concerned about police brutality.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was among those calling for Trainer’s dismissal.

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Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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