what we can do
We have the power to push for an end to police impunity
We believe that justice for Terrence will look like a city in which law enforcement is held accountable, and also in which the lives of people like Terrence are recognized, cherished, and valued above institutions like MPD and the systems it protects.
In support of greater transparency and accountability, we are pushing for an independent Police Control Board to be granted the authority to conduct fully independent investigations of MPD and to directly discipline and fire MPD officers.
MPD cannot be given the authority to determine when use of force is "justified" by its officers, and even in cases of such clear violation, the police have proven that they cannot be relied upon to hold themselves accountable, to properly discipline their officers, or to truly prioritize the safety of all DC residents. The entire "disciplinary" process is predicated on the idea that police officers are above the law and can, at their discretion, use means of force against the people of this city and later claim it was justified. The standards internal to MPD, the procedures of investigation and trial, and the presentation of evidence to the US Attorney's Office are all designed to protect the status of police officers, and one positive finding cannot erase that reality or fool us into thinking it's not the case. Police operating procedures cannot protect us if they’re not enforced for the safety of everyone in the community, nor if they are not established with community safety as the ultimate goal.
justice has not been done
Despite all the evidence against the officers, Brian Trainer remained on paid leave and continued to collect his paycheck from the City for a year and nine months before ultimately being fired from MPD, and while Trainer has been removed from the force, we know that justice has still not been done for Terrence Sterling and other victims of police violence in this city. Palmer still has his job with MPD, Trainer is free to enlist in any nearby police department, and MPD is free to continue operating with no real accountability to the people it claims to serve. The institutions in place have proven once again that they have no interest in pursuing justice or in confronting the structures of violence.
The many violations of MPD policy by Officers Trainer and Palmer include:
Pursuing Terrence against direct orders.
Firing a weapon at Terrence from the vehicle.
Failing to turn on a body-worn camera before pursuit.
Talking with a union representative before paramedics arrived.
It's clear that officers act with the expectation that they will face no consequences. We believe that needs to change.
Terrence deserves to be remembered by this city as a beloved son, brother, and friend.
We need changes that do not put more power in the hands of the police and that do not give more funding to police departments. We need changes that put power in the hands of communities and that uplift the lives and voices of people like Terrence.
If you would like to join in our work or share any insights, experiences, or feedback around policing in DC, please contact us.