The District has released body-worn camera video showing the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of a 31-year-old black motorcyclist on Sept. 11.
An officer fired near Third and M streets NW at Maryland resident Terrence Sterling, who police say had been riding a motorcycle erratically in D.C. around 4:30 a.m. that Sunday and attempted to drive into a police car. But until today, officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, had refused to release the available video of the incident, which the the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are currently investigating. They announced at a meeting with the D.C. Council today that they would publish the video and the name of the firing officer. Yesterday, protestors blocked traffic where Sterling was shot, calling for answers. Per policy, MPD has put the two officers involved in the response on administrative leave.
In the video, which does not begin until after Sterling was shot because the officer wearing the camera failed to turn it on, Sterling can be seen on the ground, on top of a green and white motorcycle wearing a helmet. An officer performs CPR while the recording officer removes the helmet. Streaks of blood line the pavement. (Conflicting reports of the incident have emerged.)
“Oh my God, my God, serious, like what the fuck!” an apparent female bystander can be heard yelling in the background. “Are you fucking serious! Like for real! … What the fuck is wrong with y’all!”
“Keep breathing, keep breathing, look at me, look at me,” an officer says as CPR is given. “Keep looking at me, buddy, alright? Keep looking at me.”
In a release, the District notes that the video is “not intended to show a presumption of a violation of MPD policy or District law.” It names the recording officer, 27-year-old Brian Trainer, as the officer who fired his weapon and shot Sterling. He has been on the force for four years, according to the city.
Bowser “deemed the [body-worn camera] footage to be in the public interest and consistent with the goals of the District’s body-worn camera program to create broader accountability between law enforcement and communities, and to maintain open and transparent government,” the release says. The District authorized a full body-worn camera program in 2015 for MPD’s patrol officers. It has released a few other videos of responses to fatal officer-involved shootings over the past year.
In a statement, the D.C. Police Union said it “strongly condemn[ed], in the most vehement terms,” Bowser’s decision to release the video and the name of the firing officer “before the conclusion of the investigation.” Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who heads the union, called the disclosure “reckless to the extreme,” arguing that it endangers the officers involved. “The lives of our members are not pawns in some political game, to be thrown to anti-police special interest groups in the pursuit of an unlikely re-election bid for a flawed administration,” Mahl said.
Sterling was transported to Howard University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 4:45 a.m. Toward the end of the clip released today, ambulance sirens can be heard arriving on the scene. The five-minute video can be seen below: