You’ve probably seen, heard, and read quite a bit about the incident involving Karon Hylton-Brown’s fatal moped crash that happened in the Washington, DC neighborhood of Brightwood Park on October 23, 2020.
In case you’re not familiar, reports say Karon Hylton-Brown, a 20-year-old Black man, was riding his electric moped on the sidewalk without a helmet when officers approached him in a squad car. Mr. Hylton-Brown allegedly continued to ride the moped for another two minutes as the officers appeared to chase him in their squad car. Police say the man turned into an oncoming vehicle and was struck–he died three days later from the injuries sustained in the crash.
Since then, body cam footage has been released, leading to questions about whether D.C. police followed the correct protocol. The aftermath has included protests during which some officers were injured by projectiles thrown at them, irritants being sprayed at the protestors, the use of flashbangs by police, and eight protesters’ arrests.
At the time this blog post was published, four police officers had been placed on leave.
The Cause of the Outrage
A few components of this case have raised some red flags for investigators. Specifically, Washington, DC, police have a strict policy of not chasing vehicles. Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “We have very clear policies about no chasing. It should be obvious by now. Why? Because chases can be dangerous.”
Some argue that according to the bodycam footage, the officers were indeed chasing Mr. Hylton-Brown on his moped right up until the fatal collision. Why the officers allegedly appeared to break protocol and chase him for a seemingly minor traffic offense is unclear and top of mind for many seeking answers.
Another red flag for some people is that not all body cameras were turned on; apparently, they were not turned on until after the crash, though it should be on the entire time. There is video footage of the chase available because once the camera is turned on, it automatically saves the last two minutes of video. The fact that the camera was not on potentially violates the Metropolitan Police Department policy, stating that body cameras must be activated for pursuits.
One last source of outrage is that the officer driving the car, identified as Terence Sutton, allegedly has a history of harassment in the neighborhood; one website is reporting that he was involved in another chase that, according to Karen Hylton (Karon’s mother), ended with one of Karon’s siblings, Robert, breaking his leg. Additionally, Officer Sutton was also involved (though not a defendant) in a lawsuit alleging a sexually abusive and unconstitutional search of another man.
Will There Be Justice?
In the days following Mr. Hylton-Brown’s passing, his family has been left to grieve and demand answers. Unfortunately, incidents such as these require time and investigation, and transparency, none of which are guaranteed.
The Hylton family has been promised a thorough investigation (led by the U.S. Attorney), and if wrongdoing is determined, those responsible should be held accountable. In the meantime, the Hylton family should retain the services of an experienced, highly qualified lawyer to represent them and the late Karon Hylton-Brown.
Most lawyers will accept only accept cases such as these if they genuinely believe a fair and reasonable settlement is likely. How can the family pay for the lawyer? They should have no fees upfront. The lawyer gets paid a percentage of the settlement, and those terms will be discussed and agreed upon by the lawyer and the victim’s family before any formal agreements are made.
What Should the Family Do?
By retaining an attorney, the Hylton family can focus on mourning their loss and planning services or memorials to celebrate Karon’s life. In the meantime, their attorney will handle quite a bit, including lengthy discussions with the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the attorneys for the officers involved in the incident, and the attorneys for the driver who struck Karon Hylton-Brown’s moped and much more.
These types of cases require an immense amount of time, dedication, and work and should be handled by seasoned attorneys who have experience with these types of complicated cases.
If the family’s attorneys conduct a successful case, justice may be served in a few different ways:
- Disciplinary action, up to and including job termination and even incarceration, depending on the findings.
- A monetary settlement to help cover the cost of medical and funeral expenses and compensation for pain and suffering.
- The possibility of future law changes or enforcement to prevent future cases such as this from occurring again.
If you are ever in a similar situation as that of the Hylton family–and we sincerely hope you are not–contact The Lapidus Law Firm to discuss your case with our highly qualified personal injury and accident attorneys.
Contact A Fatal Accident Lawyer
Our team has decades of experience and success, including in the courtroom, so you can be confident that we will focus on every detail and exhaust every option for justice to be served. Contact us at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. Here at The Lapidus Law Firm, we’re making justice work for you.