San Diego Police Department

‘We're Held to Higher Standards': Former Detective Reacts to Arrest of SDPD Officer Accused of Brandishing Gun Off-Duty

Officer Trevor Sterling was arrested Saturday night after displaying a firearm "in a threatening manner" outside a bar in Pacific Beach, SDPD said.

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San Diegans and a former local law enforcement agent are reacting to the arrest of a San Diego police officer accused of using his personal weapon in a threatening manner outside of a bar in Pacific Beach while he was off duty.

SDPD arrested officer Trevor Sterling Saturday night because he was "displaying a firearm in a threatening manner outside of a bar," SDPD Lt. Adam Sharki said.

Sterling was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and brandishing a firearm, according to Sharki. The incident happened near Moonshine Beach on Garnet Avenue.

Chief David Nisleit immediately suspended Sterling without pay and removed his police powers.

“This type of behavior is unbecoming of any police officer. I want the community to know this will be investigated to the fullest and sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review," Nisleit said.

Witnesses said there was a long line outside a nearby bar and they saw several officers after the incident. The general manager of Moonshine Beach told NBC 7 Sterling never came inside.

Locals said they’re surprised it was an officer arrested, but that Chief NIsleit did the right thing by suspending the officer without pay.

“It doesn’t sound like a great situation," resident Patrick Sornsin said. “Anytime you’re mixing guns and alcohol, it’s not the best idea. And usually here in PB, it’s not that rough; probably don’t need to be walking around with a concealed carry, right?”

“I don’t think that they should abuse their authority like that and pull out a gun,” San Diego resident Jaime Gomez said. “The only time you pull your gun is if you’re going to use your weapon.”

“Until there’s an investigation and they find out more information, yeah he should be suspended without pay,” San Deigo resident Lisa Monday-Gomez said.

In 2016, an officer with the same name and years of service was one of four officers who shot and killed a 30-year-old man after he tried to ram into police during a chase in Encanto.

Retired San Diego County Sheriff's Department detective and gun safety advocate Pete Carillo said if the officer's conduct at the bar is confirmed, it should not be tolerated.

"We're told since the academy that we have to be careful,” Carillo said. “If we're going to choose to go out and drink in public or in a bar, or whatever the situation is, we have to behave ourselves and we're held to a higher standard. So, if you're going to make a decision, any officer, to go out and drink at night or hang out with others that are drinking, we shouldn't be taking our firearms. Most policies and procedures warn us about that."

Sterling has been with SDPD for nine years and is assigned to the Special Operations Unit.

No other information was released.

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