DC Officer Faulted in Internal Review of Fatal Shooting

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The Washington, D.C., police officer who fatally shot an unarmed motorcyclist last year had no reason to pull his gun and was not in danger when he fired, police concluded in an internal investigation that contradicts the officer’s account. The review, obtained by The Washington Post, showed that Officer Brian Trainer and his partner, Officer Jordan Palmer, violated department policies early on Sept. 11, 2016, as they pursued and attempted to arrest motorcyclist Terrence Sterling, 31. After the officers spotted Sterling, who police said was speeding and running red lights, they tracked him through the city and eventually pulled their marked cruiser into an intersection ahead of the biker. Trainer was getting out as Sterling rode forward and the motorcycle struck the car door. Trainer then fired his gun twice, striking Sterling in the neck and back.

Trainer, 28, told police he had heard the bike revving before it came “violently” toward him and pinned his leg between the door and the car, according to the internal police report. He said he fired because he feared for his safety, as well as Palmer’s. But after re-creating the incident and examining Trainer’s injuries, which the report described as superficial, police said they determined the officer’s leg had been struck by the car door but was never pinned. The 34-page report also concluded that Sterling was trying to maneuver around the cruiser, not ram it. Trainer, who has been on the force since 2012, is on paid administrative leave. In August, federal prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges against Trainer.

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