D.C. officer charged with 2020 murder of Karon Hylton-Brown

D.C. officer Terence Sutton has also been charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy

Loading the player...

A 12-year veteran of the D.C. police department has been charged with murder and obstruction stemming from the death of Karon Hylton-Brown last fall.

Officer Terence Sutton, 37, was indicted on Friday on one count of second-degree murder, The Washington Post reported. Sutton, along with police supervisor Lt. Andrew Zabavsky, 53, have also been charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Both are accused of covering up the unauthorized pursuit of Hylton-Brown, and delayed reporting the severity of his injuries to supervisors.

As theGrio previously reported, Hylton-Brown, 20, was reportedly riding a moped on the sidewalk without a helmet when D.C. police tried to stop him. He didn’t stop. Police had allegedly been pursuing him for two minutes when he crashed into a car coming out of an alley. The incident occurred on the night of Oct. 23, 2020. Hylton-Brown died from his injuries three days later. 

Police at the time said officers pursued Hylton for riding a moped on the sidewalk without a helmet. The official policy of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia states that officers are not allowed to pursue vehicles involved in traffic infractions.

A police source anonymously spoke to The Washington Post and said that “from the video, it appears to be a pursuit. But we don’t have enough information to make a final determination on that.”

“The pursuit ended when Sutton followed Hylton-Brown into an alleyway, deactivated his police vehicle’s emergency lights and sirens, and accelerated behind Hylton-Brown as Hylton-Brown approached the alleyway’s exit onto the 700 block of Kennedy Street,” the indictment reads. “Immediately upon entering the street, Hylton-Brown was struck by an oncoming civilian vehicle. The impact ejected Hylton-Brown off the moped and across the full width of the alley, in plain view of Sutton.”

According to reports, Hylton-Brown died on the day his newborn daughter turned 3-months-old. His death prompted protesters to march around the 4th District police station on Georgia Avenue for two nights, chanting “Justice for Karon” and “Who do you serve, who do you protect?” 

The indictment of the two officers comes 11 months after the fatal crash. Prosecutors said that 20 minutes after the crash, Sutton and Zabavsky turned off their body-worn cameras and talked to one another and neither of the officers notified the city’s major crash unit, which is responsible for investigating major crashes according to the Washington Post.

Later at the station, “they provided a misleading account of the incident,” according to the indictment. 

In his official report, Sutton denied pursuing Hylton, and Zabavsky “withheld all information about his involvement in the incident.”

Sutton has been on suspended duty since the deadly pursuit that killed Hylton-Brown. 

Hylton-Brown’s family and friends questioned why police followed him for such minor offenses.

“As our community grieves and demands answers, we must ask: what was going to be accomplished by the chase and traffic stop for not wearing a helmet?” D.C. Council Member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and chair of the public safety committee said after the incident.

“Incidents like this show us the limits of policing and the ubiquity of Black residents’ interactions with law enforcement,” Allen said at the time. “When residents call for the reinvestment away from policing into social supports, and limiting Black residents’ contacts with law enforcement officers and the criminal justice system, this is why.”

theGrio’s Biba Adams contributed to this report.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!

Loading the player...