DC Sheriff Peter Newsham said investigators were trying to determine if the police on the vehicle were chasing motorcycles, which could be a violation of the traffic violation ban. or not.
Authorities said four officers in the vehicle were laid off and revoked police powers as the investigation continued. They are part of the crackdown on crime targeting areas around Kennedy Street NW.
Police said police were trying to proceed to block traffic Hylton, who was driving a rental Revel electric motorcycle, because he was driving it on the sidewalk and was not wearing a helmet.
Officials said they are looking to determine if the officers have other reasons to try to stop Hylton. Newsham said no contraband was found and no serious crimes were reported in the area at the time.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) identifies the police driver as Terence Sutton, who joined the force in 2009. Other officers in the police car have yet to be identified. Sutton could not be reached for comment. A union representative did not respond to questions about the officers.
Hylton̵7;s death angered his family and community members, who assumed the police had harassed him in the past and then chased Hylton to death. The fatal accident prompted two nights of protests outside of the District 4 police station on Georgia Avenue, NW. Protests were volatile, with more than a dozen officers injured and broken station windows on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Charles Brown, Karon Hylton’s father, said he watched police camera videos showing the events leading to his son’s death but he did not want to comment on them. He also didn’t want to say whether he thought the officers involved should be disciplined or charged, but he did have a general message for the police.
“What I want to tell every officer out there that he’s a good officer, what I need them to do is check on other bad officers,” Brown said.
The video from Sutton’s body-mounted camera began shortly after policemen drove into an alley in the 700th block of Kennedy Street, NW. About halfway along the alley, an officer seemed to turn off the vehicle’s emergency lights, but the cruiser still followed the motorcycle at a close distance.
The video also shows Sutton activating his camera as he exits the cruiser, after motorbikes and trucks collide. The video before that time is two minutes before that data is automatically saved after the body-worn camera is activated. Sound is not recorded during that time period.
DC also released a video from the staff in the passenger seat showing more of the time before the crash. It did not include sounds from inside the cruiser.
Newsham says police must turn on their cameras as soon as they start to stop, generally at the same time they activate the emergency lights. Failure to do so, the sheriff said, “would be a very serious offense” that could result in the firing of an officer. Newsham said the department is investigating when the police activated their cameras.
DC Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chaired the council’s public safety committee, said that if the camera was turned on earlier, the sound would be available from officers as they watched. Hylton.
He said that would help understand why the officers intend to stop him. “I think at the end of the day, this is pretty obvious not about someone not wearing a helmet,” Allen said, adding that he didn’t want to speculate on the officers’ possible motives.
Police said they were also trying to determine the path of the motorcycle and the officers. A surveillance video from his home, broadcast by WRC-TV, shows a motorcycle walking near Seventh and Kennedy, NW, followed by a police car with lights and sirens on.
The video from the officer in the passenger seat shows the cruiser turning from one street to another, with the policeman pointing, seemingly helping the driver track Hylton. At one point, the officers turned off the emergency lights, then turned it on again a while later.
When the car entered the lane, the emergency lights went off again, but the cruiser continued to go, and Hylton was stabbed a few seconds later as he dashed out onto Kennedy Street between parked vehicles. The staff gave first aid and called an ambulance. An officer heard on the video said, “Dude, he’s driving crazy.”
Dennis Jay Kenney, a professor at John Jay’s College of Criminal Justice and a former policeman in Florida who has written about police chases, said he saw evidence of a chase in case.
Kenney, who watched a video released by the DC police, recorded how long the incident took place and how many traffic passed. He said he believed the police used the helmet breach to prevent Hylton from finding or questioning him in other matters.
“It’s a small offense and you have an anti-crime squad of four officers who are supposed to be looking for big criminals,” said Kenney. “It’s very unlikely they are breaching helmets.”
Andrew J. Scott III, president of AJS Consulting, which advises police affairs, also said that he thinks a chase can be seen clearly in the video. He noted that “the police turned on his lights” when they turned some street. “There was a time when he turned off the emergency lights, then turned it on again. They are still on the hunt for this guy. “
Newsham said it was sometimes difficult to determine when police attempts to overtake a vehicle became a chase. Officials “must confirm that the person is fleeing,” he said.
Newsham and Bowser expressed sympathy for the Hylton family. However, the mayor warned the community that “we cannot turn that anger into violence.”
Crowds gathered at the District 4 police station for two nights requested more details about the meeting. Occasionally, protesters and police clashed, protesters smashing windows, throwing bottles and fireworks at officers. Police spray chemical stimulants.
Newsham said 14 officers were injured, some of whom were hit by fireworks, and one was seriously hospitalized. The injuries included laser eye damage, damage to the eardrum from exploding fireworks and shocks from bullets, the union president said.
The police arrested eight people, on charges including property destruction and assaulting police. There was also some damage to businesses in the city center and Georgetown, though police said it was unclear whether those incidents were related to the Hylton protests.
Authorities said they were unable to provide an account of injuries to protesters, although social media said many were injured.
Dana Hedgpeth, Keith L. Alexander, Emily Davies and Fenit Nirappil contributed to this report.