By about 9:30 p.m., police had established a perimeter about a block from the Fourth District station after a coordinated push to clear the area near the station, and many of the protesters appeared to disperse.
The 20-year-old Hylton was riding an electric moped last Friday when officers tried to stop him because he was not wearing a helmet, police said. They said he drove out of an alley and collided with another vehicle.
Two city officials with knowledge of the investigation said no conclusions have been made, but an initial review of police body camera video appears to show the officers were pursuing Hylton. Police officers in the District are not allowed to pursue vehicles involved in traffic infractions.
Hylton was fatally struck by a car during the attempted police stop at the intersection of 7th and Kennedy streets in Northwest, where more than 100 people gathered for a vigil Wednesday evening, holding candles and signs demanding justice.
But before the vigil began, a small crowd surrounded a D.C. police SUV. As a woman on a bullhorn led shouts of “Justice for Karon,” two men slung a brick and debris at the vehicle, smashing the rear window. The cruiser drove off without any arrests or further confrontation.
Hylton’s mother, Karen Hylton, briefly spoke at the vigil with tears in her eyes. She shouted demands for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and city officials to face her and explain how her son was killed. Police have not yet released body camera or in-car footage of the moped incident but on Wednesday said they will do so.
Karen Hylton headed west on Kennedy Street, leading marchers toward the Fourth District police station as they continued to scream demands for justice. She led the chorus of shouts and at one point tossed bouquets of flowers that she shared in her son’s memory into the street as she continued marching.
At the Fourth District station on Georgia Avenue, less than a mile from the scene of Karon Hylton’s crash, about 125 people gathered outside the station early in the evening, facing a few dozen officers in riot gear who stood guard outside the building. By 7:30 p.m., the glass front door to the station had been smashed, and temporary fencing around the building had been knocked down.
Angry shouts were lobbed on bullhorns by members of the crowd, but neither side escalated conflict in the early moments of Wednesday’s demonstrations.
More than half the demonstrators remained across Georgia Avenue while about two dozen directly shouted profanities at the line of police.
Shortly after 8 p.m., police turned off the lights outside the building, causing demonstrators and officers to shine lights in each other’s faces. Then, demonstrators fired fireworks high above Georgia Avenue, waking up the crowd. A police helicopter circled above shining a spotlight on the crowd, which slowly grew in size.
Wearing a shirt with the words “Black and Proud,” Joella Roberts walked through the crowd in front of the police station shouting into a megaphone. “People over property!” She chanted. “Who do you protect?”
Roberts said she has been protesting in D.C. for months.
“We’re out here tonight for another murder. Another murder. It’s a global pandemic,” said Roberts, of D.C. “Nobody deserves to grow up without their father because of an illegal chase, just because of the color of your skin.”
Hylton has a 3-month-old daughter.
Around 9 p.m., tensions grew outside the Fourth District station. Officers used pepper spray on a group of about a dozen people after a man shouted at the police line and kept trying to walk through the line. One officer repeatedly asked the man to calm down as a few demonstrators tried to restrain him.
Officers behind the line shot the spray in response. No arrests were made. A demonstrator lobbed a string of firecrackers toward police.
Then, a line of police officers stationed across Georgia Avenue swept south and pushed demonstrators from the entrance.
“Move back, move back!” officers shouted as demonstrators threw projectiles. The protesters scattered and fled as police cleared the intersection of Peabody Street and Georgia Avenue and continued to push demonstrators south.
Protesters tossed water bottles at officers and started rushing south into a McDonald’s parking lot. They coughed as smoke filled the air outside.
The protesters then were pushed further south, seemingly corralled between two police lines on Georgia Avenue south of the station. Screaming and confusion filled the air.
But as some of the crowd dispersed after the police push, others lingered near the intersection of Georgia and Missouri avenues, and some shot at least two large fireworks at the line of officers. Police responded with flash bangs, and the police said “several officers” had suffered injuries from the fireworks.
Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.