District Reaches $3.5 Million Settlement with Family of Terrence Sterling

By: Allan M. Siegel

Terrence Sterling was shot dead by a police officer on September 11, 2016. At the time, Officer Trainer and his partner pulled into the intersection of Third and M streets, NW to attempt a traffic stop of Sterling on his motorcycle. When Trainer was getting out of the police car, he shot at Sterling when Sterling’s motorcycle struck the police vehicle’s door. Witnesses said that Sterling appeared to be trying to get around the police vehicle when Trainer shot him. He was unarmed, and 31 years old at the time of death. His death sparked protests throughout the city, with family members and activists demanding justice, and answers as to what happened.

The settlement of $3.5 million with the District of the wrongful-death lawsuit has happened four months after the internal investigation by DC Police’s Use of Force Review Board found that Trainer was not in danger and should not have pulled his gun when he shot at Sterling. The Board recommended that Trainer be terminated. He currently is on paid administrative leave. DC officials stated that the settlement with the family is the highest ever in a fatal police shooting by an on-duty police officer. “This is something we worked long and hard for. It doesn’t bring Terrence back, but it does bring some closure,” Isaac Sterling said in an interview. “We are satisfied.”