Metropolitan Police Department officer Terence Sutton has been charged with second degree murder in the death of Karon Hylton-Brown as well as federal charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Lieutenant Andrew Zabavsky faces federal charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
CNN has contacted the Metropolitan Police Department for comment. Lawyers for Sutton and Zabavsky pleaded not guilty on behalf of their clients on Friday.
The indictment alleges that Sutton and Zabavsky attempted to “hide from MPD officials the circumstances of the road collision that led to Hylton-Brown’s death, in order to prevent an internal investigation into the incident and the dismissal of the case to federal authorities for a criminal investigation into civil rights. “
“The transparency of police operations requires an independent review of the use of force by the police,” DC Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said at a press conference on Friday following announcement of charges. “It’s the process of accountability. MPD respects and supports investigations conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office.
“At the end of legal proceedings, whatever the outcome, the MPD is then authorized to conduct its own administrative investigation,” said the chief.
Hylton-Brown was riding a Revel scooter on the sidewalk on October 23 without a helmet, prompting officers to turn on their hazard lights and attempt to stop traffic, police said in a press release at the time.
Sutton was driving an unmarked police car on Friday night with three other unidentified police officers inside and Zabavsky was alone in his marked police car, according to the indictment.
They both sued Hylton-Brown because “driving a moped on the sidewalk and driving a moped without a helmet are traffic violations,” according to the indictment.
Sutton chased Hylton-Brown for more than three minutes through the streets of the neighborhood, according to the indictment, and at times accelerated “to more than double the residential speed limit”, according to the indictment, adding that the chase lasted more than 10 blocks.
While Zabavsky helped start the chase and activated his hazard lights, he was separated from the chase after several blocks and continued to drive on a parallel path, communicating with Sutton via closed police radio channels about their location in order to intercept Hylton. -Brown, said the indictment.
“This channel was not broadcast to the communications dispatcher responsible for coordinating the pursuit of vehicles or to the district surveillance commander, the MPD official to whom Zabavsky reported,” said the indictment.
Sutton followed Hylton-Brown down an alleyway, turned off his hazard lights and sirens, and sped up behind him as Hylton-Brown approached the alley exit, where he was struck by an oncoming civilian vehicle. reverse, according to the indictment.
“The impact knocked Hylton-Brown off the moped and across the width of the lane,” the indictment reads.
Seconds later, when Zabavsky arrived at the scene, “Hylton-Brown was lying in the street, motionless, unconscious and with a pool of blood pooling under his head,” the indictment reads.
Neither Sutton and Zabavsky informed the team responsible for investigating traffic accidents involving serious injury or death, nor did they notify chain of command officials of the pursuit and injuries of Hylton- Brown, according to the indictment.
The two “took control of the scene and deliberately neglected to perform their duties properly,” he added.
“Less than 21 minutes after the collision, before leaving the scene, Sutton and Zabavsky disabled their body cameras (BWCs) issued by the MPD and spoke in private” and provided the police station with a “misleading account of the incident ”, according to the accusation.
Sutton has denied engaging in a lawsuit against Hylton-Brown, and Zabavsky withheld information about his involvement in the incident, according to the indictment, adding that they “both failed to mention the Hylton-Brown serious injuries “.
Hylton-Brown suffered a severe head trauma and died two days later from his injuries, according to the indictment.
It was only after Zabavsky learned of the seriousness of Hylton-Brown’s injuries that he was outspoken to a superior, according to the indictment.
Sutton had been with the MPD for over 10 years and was assigned to the Crime Control Team, while Zabavsky had been with the MPD for 18 years and supervised officers in the same district to which Sutton was assigned.
Trial judge Zia Faruqui on Friday ordered Sutton to be placed under house arrest and Zabavsky on a high-intensity supervised program that included electronic surveillance and a curfew.
Sutton’s attorney, J. Michael Hannon, said his client had been suspended without pay since the incident and had received death threats. If found guilty, Sutton faces the maximum of life in prison. The next court date is October 4.
The two are currently on administrative leave, Contee, the police chief said at the press conference.
“What’s going on, members today received notice of intent to suspend them indefinitely,” he said. “There is an appeal process that they can go through and once they go through that process, at the end of it, a final decision will be made as to their status.”