WASHINGTON (AP) — An officer in the nation’s capital has been indicted on a murder charge for his role in a fatal vehicle accident during a police chase that sparked two days of protests and clashes.
Federal prosecutors announced Friday that Terrence Sutton, 37, was indicted on second-degree murder, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in connection with the death of 20-year-old Karon Hylton-Brown, who died after a pursuit in Washington, D.C. in October 2020.
Hylton died after his moped crashed into a car while he was being pursued by Sutton and other police officers.
City police regulations forbid high-speed pursuits over minor traffic violations. Police have said officers tried to stop Hylton because he was riding his moped on the sidewalk without a helmet.
Body camera footage released by the Metropolitan Police Department showed the officers in a police cruiser chasing Hylton for several blocks with their lights flashing, at one point doing a U-turn when Hylton reverses course right in front of the cruiser. The chase continues into an alley. When Hylton’s vehicle emerges from the alley, it slams into the passenger side door of a passing car.
The pursuit appeared to violate the department’s policy prohibiting chases.
A police lieutenant, Andrew Zabavsky, 53, who prosecutors say was the highest-ranking officer at the scene, was also indicted on conspiracy and obstruction charges. Prosecutors allege he withheld information from other police officials and delayed notifying internal investigators about the incident.
Sutton and Zabavsky pleaded not guilty in court Friday. Sutton's attorney, J. Michael Hannon, said the policeman believed he was the victim of a “tragic double-cross of his commitment to law enforcement,” The Washington Post reported.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said Friday that the department would fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office, noting, “This is the process of accountability.”