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Former D.C. police officers found guilty in death of 20-year-old during police pursuit

Two former Metropolitan Police officers were found guilty on all charges brought against them in connection with the death of Karon Hylton-Brown, who was involved in a fatal car crash during a police chase more than two years ago. Former officers Terence Sutton, 38, and Andrew Zabavsky, 54, had been suspended from the police department due to suspicious circumstances surrounding Hylton-Brown’s death that sparked public unrest and led to a criminal trial.

Hylton-Brown, a 20-year-old Black man, was pursued by D.C. police while driving a moped on a sidewalk in the city’s Brightwood Park neighborhood on Oct. 23, 2020. Authorities have said the attempted traffic stop was prompted by Hylton-Brown’s lack of a helmet, although Sutton and Zabavsky were also found guilty of conspiring to hide the true circumstances of the chase and traffic collision that caused the young man’s death. Sutton continued to chase Hylton-Brown for more than 10 blocks through neighborhood streets and into an alley, when Hylton-Brown was struck by an oncoming vehicle as soon as he exited the alley, suffering severe head trauma that led to his death two days later, on Oct. 25, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a news release that the jury returned guilty verdicts for both men, convicting Sutton of second-degree murder, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, and Zabavsky of the latter two charges:  “The jury found that Sutton caused Mr. Hylton-Brown’s death by driving a police vehicle in conscious disregard for an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury to Mr. Hylton-Brown. The jury further found that Sutton and Zabavsky conspired and combined to hide from MPD officials the circumstances of the traffic crash leading to Mr. Hylton-Brown’s death.”

The second-degree murder charge against Sutton carries a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, while the conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges each carry respective statutory maximums of five and 20 years. A federal district court judge will determine sentences for both former officers.

Editorial credit: Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com

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