September 14, 2016

The shooting of Terrence Sterling is a tragedy that, by all accounts, may have been avoided.

The ACLU of the Nation’s Capital is deeply concerned not only by the aggressive strategies and tactics used by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), but also the conflicting reports and absence of body camera footage.

MPD policy clearly outlines when police officers should start Body-Worn Camera recordings, including at the beginning of self-initiated engagement and vehicle pursuits. The unnamed officer who killed Terrence Sterling did not activate his camera until after the shooting and there are now two conflicting accounts of what occurred, one from the police officer's report and the other from an eye witness. 

D.C. law states, "The intent of the [Body-Worn Camera] program is to promote accountability and transparency." In the case of Mr. Sterling's death, we have neither. This lack of accountability worsens the schism between communities of color and the officers sworn to serve them, and ultimately puts all our lives and livelihoods in danger.

MPD must do more than just “trying to remind” officers to follow the policy. There must be a fundamental change in the way law enforcement serves our communities.

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