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DC Cops Convicted Of Murder And Conspiracy Charges For Death Of Man Fleeing Cops On Moped

By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone

Washington, DC – A federal jury has convicted two DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers on all counts in connection with the death of a man who crashed his moped into the side of an SUV while fleeing from police.

After five days of deliberation, a jury in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC found 38-year-old MPD Officer Terence Sutton guilty on Wednesday of second-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Karon Hylton-Brown, The Washington Post reported.

Officer Sutton and 54-year-old MPD Lieutenant Andrew Zabavsky were also convicted of obstructing justice and conspiracy.

Prosecutors argued the pursuit that preceded the deadly crash violated MPD policy and was conducted in an illegally reckless manner, according to The Washington Post.

They further accused the officers of trying to cover up the chase and the severity of the collision.

Officer Sutton’s murder conviction marks the first time that an on-duty MPD officer has been convicted of murder, WRC reported.

The 13-year MPD veteran faces up to 40 years in prison on that charge alone, according to The Washington Post.

He and Lt. Zabavsky, who joined the MPD in 2001, face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for obstruction and a maximum of two years for conspiring to obstruct justice.

Hylton-Brown’s mother was ejected from the courtroom after she began jumping up and down and screaming obscenities at the defendants as the verdict was read, WRC reported.

The judge screamed for U.S. Marshals to “get her out,” and she was dragged out the courtroom while thrashing and kicking, according to The Washington Post.

She continued to brawl with police out in the hallway and was ultimately led away in handcuffs.

It is unclear whether she will face criminal charges, The Washington Post reported.

“This has been a difficult case; this has been a contentious case,” Judge Paul Friedman noted from the bench on Wednesday just prior to the jury’s decision. “Emotions have run high on both sides.”

The trial began on Oct. 25.

Friedman allowed both officers to remain free on bail until their sentencing hearing, The Washington Post reported.

Their sentencing proceedings were not scheduled as of Wednesday.

Officer Sutton and Lt. Zabavsky were suspended without pay after Hylton-Brown’s death, pending the outcome of the case, The Washington Post reported.

Now that the criminal proceedings are wrapped up, the MPD will finish its internal review.

The incident occurred at about 10:10 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2020, after Officer Sutton and Lt. Zabavsky saw Hylton-Brown driving a Revel electric moped down the sidewalk in the 500-block of Kennedy Street, NW, The Washington Post reported.

Hylton-Brown was not wearing a helmet, which is illegal, and was also breaking the law by riding the scooter on a sidewalk through the Brightwood Park neighborhood.

Friedman refused to let the jurors be told during the trial that Hylton-Brown was also carrying $3,128 in cash and wearing an ankle monitor as a condition of his release in a criminal case when the crash occurred, The Washington Post reported.

Police tried to stop the scooter but Hylton-Brown fled, according to the DCist.

Bodyworn camera from the driver of the police car that was directly behind Hylton-Brown showed more details of what happened the night he crashed.

Hylton-Brown could be seen on his moped crossing in front of the officers in their police car just as the video began.

The officers followed him in their separate police cars.

Officer Sutton’s attorney said during the hearing for his client’s release that the pursuit was justified because the officers had justifiably believed the Hylton-Brown had a gun.

The indictment said that Officer Sutton pursued Hylton-Brown at speeds of up to 45 mph “through neighborhood streets with pedestrians and other vehicles present,” WTOP reported.

Charging documents said Officer Sutton drove the wrong way down a one-way street and ran seven stop signs during the pursuit while Lt. Zabavsky went an alternate route and tried to cut Hylton-Brown off.

Bodycam video showed that Hylton-Brown led the officers down an alleyway and when he emerged in the 700-block of Kennedy Street, NW, he slammed directly into the side of a moving SUV that was driving down the road.

Bodycam video showed Hylton-Brown flew off his moped and landed about 15 feet away from it on the street.

The shocked driver of the vehicle that Hylton crashed into stopped farther down the block, the video showed.

Officers performed First Aid until the ambulance arrived and then the moped driver was transported to the hospital.

Hylton-Brown succumbed to his injuries three days later, according to WTTG.

The indictment said both Officer Sutton and Lt. Zabavsky failed to take any witness statements from anyone except the driver of the SUV that Hylton-Brown had crashed into, WTOP reported.

Charging documents also alleged that Officer Sutton let the driver of the SUV leave the scene 20 minutes after the moped ran into him, then he and Lt. Zabavsky turned off their bodycams and talked privately.

Afterwards, Officer Sutton violated procedure and left the scene in his patrol vehicle, according to the indictment.

Charging documents showed allegations that Officer Sutton and Lt. Zabavsky lied to a superior officer and said that Officer Sutton hadn’t chased Hylton-Brown, WTOP reported.

They also allegedly minimized his injuries to supervisors even though they knew he was likely dying, which delayed the launch of an internal affairs investigation into the incident, according to the complaint.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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