WASHINGTON — Opening arguments are expected to continue Wednesday in the trial of two D.C. officers for their involvement in the death of a man two years ago. Karon Hylton-Brown died on Oct. 25, 2020, from injuries sustained after being hit by an SUV while Metropolitan Police Department officers were pursuing him.
Hylton-Brown crashed a moped he was driving into a vehicle in the 700 block of Kennedy Street, Northwest on Oct. 23. Police said they initially tried to pull Hylton-Brown over for not wearing a helmet as he rode his moped on a sidewalk, a misdemeanor traffic crime. Police say he fled on the moped, and officers followed him in their cars. Hylton-Brown struck an SUV and was taken to the hospital, where he died two days later.
Officer Terence Sutton and Lieutenant Andrew Zabavsky were indicted last year. Sutton is facing a second-degree murder charge, along with federal conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges for engaging in, and trying to cover up, an unauthorized pursuit of Hylton-Brown that led to his death.
Fellow officer Andew Zabavsky is also facing charges for attempting to downplay the seriousness of the chase and Hylton-Brown's injuries.
Both officers pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lawyers for the officers argued the Hylton-Brown was a known member of the Kennedy Street crew, which allegedly operates an open-air drug market, and that Hylton-Brown had been stopped twice before as a juvenile with a handgun. They argued that police followed him because they believed he was armed and coming to take revenge after an argument on the street earlier in the day.
Family members said Mr. Hylton-Brown was searching for lost car keys while riding the moped. An assistant U.S. Attorney responded that it's the officers who are on trial for murder, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, not Hylton-Brown.
Following the indictment, in Nov. 2021, Hylton-Brown's mother, Karen Hylton, filed a lawsuit seeking $31.26 billion in damages. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, states Ms. Hylton will pursue legal remedies against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the police department, and the officers involved in her son's death.
Both Sutton and Zabavsky have been suspended since the initial crash investigation. The trial is expected to last at least three weeks.