2 DC officers convicted in fatal chase of scooter driver

Two D.C. police officers were found guilty Wednesday in the death of a man who was hit and killed during a police chase in 2020.

Officer Terence Sutton was found guilty of second-degree murder. conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice in the death of Karon Hylton-Brown, 20; Lt. Andrew Zabavsky was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

The jury began deliberating last week.

Hylton-Brown was riding a rental scooter with no helmet on a sidewalk — both traffic violations — in the 400 block of Kennedy Street, in Northwest, on the night of Oct. 23, 2020, when officers tried to stop him.

He didn’t stop and the officers chased him for more than three minutes, covering 10 blocks. The D.C. police can’t pursue a vehicle if the only reason is to make a traffic stop. Hylton-Brown drove out of an alley in the 700 block of Kennedy Street and was hit by another driver heading down Kennedy Street. He later died in a hospital.

The office of U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said in a statement that Sutton drove “in conscious disregard for an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury” during the chase and that both officers “conspired and combined to hide from MPD officials the circumstances of the traffic crash leading to Mr. Hylton-Brown’s death.”

Sutton faces a maximum of 65 years in prison on the charges; Zabavsky, 25, faces up to 25 years on his charges.

As the verdict was being read, Karen Hylton-Brown, Karon’s mother, was removed from the courtroom following an outburst. Law enforcement officials confirmed her removal to WTOP, but did not say if she faces any charges. Karen Hylton-Brown was not available for comment after the hearing.

“I think that [authorities] were a little bothered by one of their colleagues being found guilty. … This is a historical trial, it was emotional on all sides. At the end of the day, Karen doesn’t get to bring her son home. So it’s not a real win,” said Jay Brown, a social impact consultant with Community Shoulders, who told WTOP that he was the one who carried her out of the courtroom.

He disputed the narrative told by authorities of Hylton-Brown’s outburst.

During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Baset said the officers’ chase of Karon Hylton-Brown was a “game” to the officers. In particular, he said Sutton forced Karon Hylton-Brown out of the alley in a deadly game of chicken, causing the crash.

Sutton’s attorney, Michael Hannon, pointed to the amount of THC found in Karon Hylton-Brown’s system, which was around 10 times the amount needed to affect someone’s abilities.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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