By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
Karon Hylton, 20, was headed to get his car keys from a friend’s house on a ride-share Revel moped scooter when D.C. police chased him, Oct. 23, a chase that ultimately led to his death. His family and the community are left asking questions and demanding answers.
Once news broke of Hylton’s (also referred to as Hylton-Brown) death, the lack of answers led to unrest uptown Oct. 27, when the young man’s family, friends and activists demonstrated in front of the Fourth District police station on Georgia Avenue N.W. Demonstrations continued into the evening, before authorities ultimately pepper sprayed his mother and other protestors. Now, the city is hurting and mourning, but further begging for answers because yet another young Black man is leaving his 3-month old daughter fatherless after an interaction with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
“What happened Friday night was a tragedy and I join Karon Hylton’s family and friends in mourning,” said Council member Brandon Todd (D- Ward 4) in a statement to the AFRO. “ I trust MPD will conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I will push for swift and decisive action to ensure justice is served.”
Despite the Council member’s confidence in MPD’s investigation, after Friday night’s incident, many activists don’t have faith in D.C police.
“Karon Hylton was a D.C. native and a new father to a 3-month old baby girl, he was riding a registered motorcycle and was struck from the back by (MPD),” Freedom Fighters DC posted on Twitter. “Not only was there a previous pattern of harassment inflicted on Karon by MPD, but they also pulled the plug on his life support without the family’s consent. This is an egregious example of why we say defund MPD, while [Mayor Bowser] just gave them another 40 million dollars for their budget. The DC Police Department has murdered 13 people since we started protesting 151 days ago. We must continue to fight for the liberation of Black people and the abolition of all oppressive means of policing and punitive measures. Together we will lose our chains. Please join Freedom Fighters DC in standing in solidarity with those who loved Karon. Rest in Power, Karon Hylton.”
Now activists are demanding answers as to why Hylton is gone.
According to a statement sent to the AFRO from D.C. Police, “at approximately 10:09 p.m., MPD officers observed a person operating a Revel Electric Moped without a helmet on the sidewalk in the 500 block of Kennedy Street, N.W. Officers activated their emergency lights and attempted to make a traffic stop. When the moped exited an alley in the 700 block of Kennedy Street, N.W., the moped collided with a passenger vehicle that was traveling on Kennedy Street.”
When the AFRO reached out to D.C. police about the legality of the matter and police chase they replied: “We are engaged directly with the next of kin about their ability to view the body-worn camera footage. We are coordinating with the Department of Behavioral Health to provide the family with the space and trauma-informed support they need to view the body-worn camera footage.”
This statement was submitted Oct. 28, however, based on several social media posts, Hylton’s mother watched the footage on Tuesday and began demanding answers, asking to speak to Officer Terrance Sutton, who was allegedly involved in the chase.
“Officer Sutton, come out,” screamed Hylton’s mother, as she yelled on a megaphone and eventually banged on the door before getting pepper sprayed with a crowd.
According to Revel’s website, all users must wear a helmet, which, according to MPD, is why officers pursued Hylton in the first place. However, activists and community leaders say that lack of a helmet should not have resulted in the 20-year-old father’s death.
“Officer Terrance Sutton, a.k.a. Tattoo, and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department must be held accountable for the murder of Karon Hylton. The Hylton family deserves justice, although there’s no justice that can bring Karon back,” said Sharece Crawford, at large committeewoman for the D.C. Black Caucus.
“We must refuse to continue with the status quo of ‘known criminals’ receiving the maximum penalties for murder while law enforcement is protected by the power structure. The District must reconcile with the disproportionate rate of its Black residents being murdered by law compared to its non-Black residents,” Crawford continued. “This is a public health crisis and must be treated as such.”
Tuesday night’s unrest began with a chorus of pain and anger wondering why police chased Hylton in the first place, for not wearing a helmet? Was it even lawful, many people wondered.
“The allegations made by the family, friends and witnesses warrant a full investigation. It is absolutely unlawful for a police officer to target and harass an individual in the manner described by Mr. Hylton-Brown’s mother. While the police may lawfully pursue a person suspected of criminal activity they must have proper legal justification,” said criminal defense attorney Cynthia Goode Works. “We expect better treatment from the men and women in blue, we deserve better as citizens of our country, and demand better treatment as human beings.”
According to The Washington Post, four police officers were injured and one arrest was made as a result of Tuesday night’s protests.