On Tuesday, Washington, D.C. police released body cam footage (which is very graphic) related to the police shooting of Terrence Sterling, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser and reported by The Washington Post. Sterling was shot and killed after officers had responded to a report Sterling was driving his motorcycle erratically on September 11.
Like many of the videos of police shootings this year, the body camera footage only shows the moments directly after the shooting. This has been a major criticism of police departments in their handling of shootings, as the cameras often fail to capture the most telling moments in these incidents. And city officials in these cases are often criticized for their delays in releasing the videos. Washington, D.C. was no different, as protesters pressured the city to release the footage. Bowser said they took so long to release the footage as the city wanted to make sure it didn’t taint its investigation:
“We are focused on transparency and making sure all of our partners in justice have what they need to investigate … We have to make sure we don’t jeopardize an investigation. We can only make a release when it’s responsible to do so. We’re at that time.”
Washington, D.C. Fox Affiliate-WTTG reported Sterling had been arriving home from a bachelor party in the early hours of the 11th and had collided with a police cruiser. Eyewitness Kandace Simms reported she saw Sterling then try to flee on his motorcycle when she then saw the police cruiser’s side passenger window open and two shots were fired at Sterling. Simms reported she did not hear any commands from the officers, nor were the cruisers lights or sirens on. Officers then reportedly tried to revive Sterling with CPR, but to no avail. Sterling family attorney Jason Downs told The Washington Post they are looking to figure out what exactly happened on the night he was gunned down and seek any consequences available:
“If the officer is innocent, then the community needs to know and the family deserves to know. But if the officer committed some form of wrongdoing or broke protocol, the community and the family deserves to know.”
Since the shooting, the Washington, D.C. police department updated its body camera policy, and officers must now confirm to dispatchers that they have turned the cameras on once they receive a call.