Police have said the officers tried to pull Hylton over because he was not wearing a helmet. Police officers in the District are not allowed to pursue vehicles involved in traffic infractions.
One of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an internal investigation, said: “From the video, it appears to be a pursuit. But we don’t have enough information to make a final determination on that.”
The officials said body-camera video is expected to be made public on Thursday. Hylton died when he collided with a vehicle after pulling out of an alley, police said.
Police and representatives from the mayor’s office made few public comments on Wednesday, even as angry protesters gathered in the streets for the second evening and demanded more information.
On Wednesday evening, dozens met up for a vigil and a march starting at Seventh and Kennedy streets NW, where the incident occurred. A small crowd surrounded a police SUV, and 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.
Karen Hylton, Karon Hylton’s mother, briefly spoke to the crowd, 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. She then angrily stormed west on Kennedy Street, leading marchers as they continued to scream demands for justice.
Later, as the crowd continued their calls for justice, some protesters began pushing and shoving, with someone shouting “apply pressure” as people on the steps of the 4th District police station got closer to officers, shouting in their faces.
In at least three different instances, protesters threw large fireworks that exploded amid several lines of officers, prompting police to spray a chemical irritant and use flash bangs to move the crowd south down Georgia Avenue NW.
The police movements sparked chaotic moments as groups of protesters scattered and panicked, often falling and tripping as they avoided the police advance. Protesters tossed water bottles back at police and started rushing south into a McDonald’s parking lot.
They coughed as smoke filled the air outside the McDonald’s.
Police said several officers were injured but could not immediately provide details. At least two people were seen taken into custody. It was not immediately clear why they were arrested.
The initial encounter between Karon Hylton and the officers occurred shortly after 10 p.m. Friday when officers said they saw Hylton operating a Revel electric moped on the sidewalk in the 500 block of Kennedy Street NW.
Police said an officer in the vehicle turned on the cruiser’s flashing lights in an attempt to pull Hylton over. Police said Hylton drove into an alley and then exited in the 700 block of Kennedy Street. That block has a combination of alleys that form a horseshoe, with two entrances on the same block. Police did not describe the precise route.
Police said the video shows no contact between the police car and the scooter. When the moped exited the alley, police said it collided with a passenger vehicle. Hylton was critically injured and taken to a hospital, where he died.
A woman who answered the door at an address listed for Hylton said his family was not ready to comment on his death.
Perry Redd, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for Brightwood Park, said family members have reviewed two body-camera videos from the incident and “have enough to move forward.” Redd said they are determining what those next steps will be.
Members of the D.C. Council are pushing for a swift and transparent investigation into the matter. Phil Mendelson (D), the chairman of the council, said on Twitter, “It is imperative that MPD be fully forthcoming and transparent about the details of his tragic incident.”
Council member Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4), where Hylton lived and the incident occurred, called his death “a tragedy.” He said he trusts police “will conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I will push for swift and decisive action to ensure justice is served.”
On social media, people who said they knew Hylton said he had been harassed by police in the past. Demonstrators contended that police had chased Hylton into traffic.
Redd, a Statehood Green Party candidate running for the Ward 4 council seat, said he views the incident as part of a pattern of police harassment of young Black men in the Kennedy Street corridor. “We have people that ride those mopeds without helmets, but I never remember someone being stopped for that,” Redd said. “Was it a pretext?”
Hylton’s death comes as the council has curbed funds for the police department amid a reimagining of tactics and priorities being discussed by members of the Police Reform Commission. Among the topics they are weighing are finding alternatives to responses by police in some circumstances, changing the discipline system for officers and restorative justice practices.
Demonstrations outside the 4th District station also erupted in disturbances Tuesday night.
Janeese Lewis George, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 4 council seat covering the neighborhood where Hylton died, said Tuesday night that she has been working with Hylton’s family and council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) to get answers from D.C. police.
George said the family and city were making progress on resolving tensions, but those talks were jeopardized after she said Hylton’s mother was among those sprayed by police with chemical irritants outside the station late Tuesday.
“I don’t understand why we need all of this,” George said Tuesday as she joined the family’s calls to remove officers from the police force if an internal probe finds them at fault.
“I do think there’s going to have to be some accountability,” she said. “If not, I’m afraid this is going to continue and the community is going to be as enraged as some of them were tonight.”
Emily Davies, Fenit Nirappil, Michael Brice-Saddler, Justin Wm. Moyer and Samantha Schmidt contributed to this report.