February 21, 2018 / 8:15 PM / 3 months ago

Family of black man killed by Washington police gets $3.5 million settlement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The city of Washington will pay $3.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of an unarmed black man who was shot to death by police in 2016, officials said on Wednesday.

The shooting death of Terrence Sterling, a 31-year-old motorcyclist who rammed a squad car after a high-speed chase, triggered demonstrations in the U.S. capital amid anger over police killings of African-Americans across the United States.

“In the tragic death of Terrence Sterling, a family lost a beloved son and brother, and thus we have a duty to bring some sense of closure to his family,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. “This settlement is a step in that direction.”

The lawyer for the Sterling family, Hassan Murphy of Baltimore, said by phone that family members were pleased that the District of Columbia “stepped up, took this so seriously, and came strong with compensation for the family.”

Prosecutors declined last year to file charges against the officer involved in the shooting, Brian Trainer, who failed to turn on his body camera before the incident.

A police review board found the shooting unjustified and recommended he be fired. Trainer, who remains on paid administrative leave, has requested a hearing that will be held in April.

Sterling, a resident of Fort Washington, Maryland, was speeding and running red lights on a motorcycle before Trainer and another officer blocked him by pulling their cruiser into an intersection.

Trainer shot Sterling as the officer began to get out of the squad car and the biker rammed his door.

Sterling had a blood alcohol level of 0.16, about twice the legal limit for the District of Columbia, and tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, prosecutors have said.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney

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