By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
Even with nationwide tension and protests in response to police officers shooting unarmed Black men, Brian Trainer, the White D.C. policeman who shot and killed Terrence Sterling in 2016, isn’t laying low. Instead, he’s fighting for his job back.
Reviewing the Facts
It all started in Northwest. D.C., on September 11, 2016, when Trainer chased Sterling, 31, who was on a motorcycle, after attempting a routine traffic stop. In the District, officers are not to pursue vehicles for traffic violations, yet Trainer did. What happened next becomes a little uncertain as Trainer cut off his body camera, but allegedly, Sterling hit the passenger’s side door as the officer was getting out, according to Fox 5 News in D.C. Ultimately, Trainer opened fire and Sterling later died at the hospital.
In order to justify the shooting, Trainer used the not-so-original defense that he feared for his life and that his leg was pinned due to force from Sterling striking the police cruiser. Yet before he turned his body camera off, Trainer told a responding officer that he was not injured.
Similarly to other instances of police shootings, like in the case of the officer who shot Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, in July 2016, no charges were brought against Trainer.
In December 2017 D.C. police concluded the shooting was unjustified and suggested that the officer be terminated from his position.
In February, Sterling’s family won a $3.5 million settlement agreement in the civil suit filed against the District’s government in the death of the 31-year-old unarmed Black man.
The Aftermath: How is Trainer Still Begging for His Job?
After the shooting, and since, Trainer has been on paid administrative leave.
On Wednesday, April 11, Trainer sat in front of a trial board that included two captains and a commander. Thus far, testimonies have not been in his favor.
An internal affairs investigator told the panel that he did not believe Trainer’s injuries were a result of Sterling’s motorcycle hitting his car. In fact, the investigator felt the injuries to his leg came from attempting to deliver aid to Sterling post the shooting.
Officer Jordan Palmer, the person who was driving the patrol cruiser when Sterling was shot, admitted to chasing the victim without permission, a very different narrative than Trainer’s, who after the shooting said the policemen were doing an “aggressive canvassing of the area,” according, again, to Fox 5 News. After learning Trainer did not tell the truth in his original testimony, one captain on the board asked why Trainer was not charged with making a false statement. A detective testifying to the board replied that it was a “judgment call”.
Trainer’s hearing with the trial board is expected to carry on through Friday.