DC police officer charged with murder in deadly pursuit of moped driver

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A Washington D.C., police officer has been indicted for the murder of a man on a moped who was fatally struck by a vehicle during a 2020 chase and conspiring with another officer to hide the circumstances of the collision, federal prosecutors said.

Officer Terence Sutton, 37, pursued Karon Hylton-Brown, 20, just after 10 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2020 after he spotted him on a moped without a helmet on the sidewalk, all traffic violations, authorities said. During the chase, Sutton reached speeds of more than double the speed limit on residential streets and at one point drove the wrong way on a one-way street, the Justice Department said. 

Hylton was eventually struck by a civilian vehicle in an alley. He sustained severe head trauma and died two days later. The pursuit appeared to violate the Metropolitan Police Department’s policy prohibiting chases. High-speed chases are barred over minor traffic offenses. 

In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo Washington Metropolitan Police Department police officers push back demonstrators outside of the fourth district police station in Washington. An officer in the nation’s capital has been indicted on a murder charge for his role in a fatal vehicle accident during a police chase that has sparked two days of protests and clashes. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Another officer, Lt. Andrew Zabavsky, 53, is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Both officers pleaded not guilty Friday.

Hylton’s death came after months of nationwide protests calling for police reform following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and sparked two days of demonstrations in Washington. 

Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said Friday that the department would fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office, noting, “This is the process of accountability.”

Prosecutors allege both officers conspired to hide the events that led to Hylton’s death, such as failing to tell superior officers about the seriousness of his injuries. In addition, less than 21 minutes after the collision, they allegedly deactivated their body cameras and failed to take statements from witnesses at the scene. 

Prosecutors said both officers “provided a misleading account of the incident to the Watch Commander,” according to court documents.  

“Sutton denied engaging in a vehicular pursuit of Hylton-Brown, Zabavsky withheld all information about his involvement in the incident, and both officers omitted any mention of Hylton-Brown’s serious injuries,” the indictment states. “Because of their misleading account, no investigation by other MPD components, including MCS and IAD, was initiated at that time.”

Sutton faces up to 65 years in prison while Zabavsky faces 25 years. Both were released from police custody Friday. A court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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