BY: LAURA JULIA FLEISCHMANN
On October 23rd, D.C. Native Karon Hylton was killed after a fatal crash on Kennedy Street, N.W. The collision followed an attempted traffic stop by D.C. police while he was on a moped looking for his car keys. According to an October 27th press release from the Metropolitan Police Department, officers tried to stop him for a traffic violation because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. It is unclear whether or not the police targeted and chased Hylton — which is illegal under D.C. law for a minor traffic violation. After the crash, the police sent him to the hospital with the name “John Doe” despite the fact that footage released on Thursday, October 29th showed that “an officer from the cruiser yelled “Karon,” indicating he had prior interactions with 20-year-old Karon Hylton”, said the Washington Post. Hylton was taken to the hospital and died at 5 AM the next day. The police who had attempted to pull Karon over had a history of harassing and targeting him, according to the GoFundMe description created by Karon’s girlfriend, Amaala Jones-Bey. She is also the mother of his 3-month-old daughter. The GoFundMe description also said that “The nurses eventually let us [Karon’s girlfriend and family] know that the police came back to ‘check on him’ later that night in which no family was around or even notified of the incident. He still remained on life support; Washington Hospital Center pulled the plug with NO CONSENT and put security in front of his door so that we could not get in the room.” Authorities said the four officers in the vehicle were placed on leave as the investigation to see if they targeted and chased Karon is underway.
Much of what happened that night remains unclear. The police say that all they did was try to make a traffic stop. However, according to DCIST, a friend of Hylton saw him try to end the confrontation. “I saw Karon stop at the intersection of Fifth Street and also ask them, ‘why are y’all still chasing me?'” the friend remembered. “They chased him. They chased him to death.” The same article said that “Maureen Brown, whose six sons were all friends with Hylton, said in a phone interview that aggressive policing was a constant presence in Hylton’s life. ‘These police officers that targeted Karon are what is known as ‘the jump-outs,'” said Brown, referring to MPD’s tactic of having plainclothes officers jump out of unmarked cars to question or search people. “They drive in unmarked D.C. police vehicles. They antagonize [young Black people] to say something to them so they can get out the car. I’ve seen this. I’ve witnessed it.’”
Days of protests in front of the Metropolitan Police’s 4th Precinct followed. Karon’s mother was at the demonstrations and said to the police, “Please come out and talk. Tell me something. Tell me what the f*** happened to my son.” The police retaliated at protesters with flashbangs and pepper spray. If the police did chase Hylton, it is yet another example of police brutality and aggressive community policing. Hylton’s death comes months after the murder of George Floyd, which sparked protests and outrage across the country. Hylton’s death also follows the murder of Deon Kay, an 18-year-old D.C. native, murdered in September by D.C. police officers.