National News Desk

DC police officers found guilty in fatal pursuit of man on electric scooter

Emergency lights on a us police car
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(WASHINGTON) — Two Washington, D.C., police officers were found guilty in the death of Karon Hylton-Brown during a police pursuit.

On Oct. 23, 2020, Hylton-Brown was driving an electric scooter without a helmet on a sidewalk when two Metropolitan police officers attempted to stop Hylton-Brown.

Body camera footage released by the MPD shows officers following Hylton-Brown down an alleyway, where he is hit by a civilian’s car as Hylton-Brown turned onto a busy street during the chase.

He died at a hospital a few days later, according to officials.

The officer who led the chase, Terence Sutton, was found guilty of second-degree murder, conspiracy to obstruct and obstruction of justice in a federal district court on Wednesday.

The officer who drove the second vehicle, Andrew Zabavsky, was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct and obstruction of justice.

Wednesday’s verdict reportedly marks the first time that an on-duty police officer has been charged and convicted of murder in the District of Columbia.

Sutton had allegedly turned off his lights and sirens as he sped up behind Hylton-Brown, according to the indictment of the two officers.

The charging documents also said that neither Sutton nor Zabavsky made any officials in the MPD chain of command aware about Hylton-Brown’s injuries, which delayed notification to the internal affairs division in charge of making formal referrals to federal authorities responsible for launching civil rights investigations.

Neither of the officers took steps to collect evidence or preserve the scene and roughly 20 minutes after the crash both officers allegedly deactivated their body-worn cameras to speak privately to each other, according to the charging documents.

After departing the scene of the crash, Sutton and Zabavsky allegedly made misleading statements describing their pursuit of Hylton-Brown and made no mention of his serious injuries, significantly delaying an investigation into their conduct.

Both officers pled not guilty. Sutton’s attorney, Michael J. Hannon, said at his initial appearance in federal court that the officers believed Hylton-Brown was a member of a drug gang and was armed and dangerous, according to the Washington Post.

Sutton and Zabavsky’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The death of Hylton-Brown was followed by days of protests outside the MPD’s 4th District station that resulted in clashes between activists and police in riot gear.

The D.C. Council this week passed legislation to limit police car chases. The measure, sponsored by council member Janeese Lewis George, would prohibit officers from chasing vehicles unless the occupants are suspected of being involved in a violent crime or if the pursuit would not risk death or bodily injury. The legislation would prohibit officers from roadblocking or ramming vehicles.

ABC News has reached out to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to see if she intends to sign the bill.

“The verdict today provides some closure after two years of what has been a difficult and emotional matter for our city,” said the Metropolitan Police Department in a statement. “We recognize that the loss of any life is tragic. As a Department, we will continue to review our policies and training, adjusting as necessary.”

According to MPD, both Sutton and Zabavsky have been on indefinite suspension without pay throughout the legal proceedings.

MPD will complete an internal investigation into this incident now that the trial has concluded, the department said in a statement.

ABC News’ Alex Mallin contributed to this report.

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