A protest over a fatal accident involving a moped driver who crashed after police tried to pull him over turned unruly Tuesday night when windows were broken at a police station, trash was strewn about and objects were thrown at officers.
As the volatile incident swirled around the 4th District police station on Georgia Avenue, with shouting demonstrators toppling a few garbage cans, police fired what appeared to be pepper pellets and stun grenades near the Peabody Street NW intersection.
Many members of the angry crowd of protesters began running south on Georgia Avenue.
About two dozen additional officers arrived on foot and formed a line along Missouri Avenue NW near a Walmart store. In the store, employees shut down the premises and swept up glass from one broken door.
Some degree of tension persisted near the police station even as midnight approached and Peabody Street reopened. Workers boarded up broken windows at the police station. About 50 people remained in the area, which appeared calm for the most part. But at one point, protesters appeared to press toward police, who in turn pushed back and unleashed a cloud of what seemed to be a chemical spray. Then the brief flurry subsided, and the general aura of calm returned. Around midnight, the last protesters seemed to leave the scene.
Before the earlier turbulence erupted, protesters assembled at the station seeking more information on the death of Karon Hylton after a crash Friday.
In response to a reporter’s question late Tuesday, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said video of the incident “never shows any contact beteween the police car and the scooter.”
As protesters gathered Tuesday night, video posted by a television station showed several people in a scuffle with police. The people appeared to try to force their way into the station.
A police spokesman said the department had been aware of a planned demonstration regarding Hylton’s death. It occurred after Hylton, 20, collided with a vehicle in Northwest Washington, authorities said Tuesday.
Around 10:10 p.m. Friday, officers saw a person without a helmet driving a Revel electric moped on a sidewalk in the 500 block of Kennedy Street NW and tried to make a traffic stop, D.C. police said in a statement.
When the moped exited an alley in the 700 block of Kennedy Street NW, it collided with a vehicle traveling on Kennedy Street, the statement said.
Hylton died at a hospital, according to the statement.
Officers are not permitted to pursue vehicles for traffic violations, Newsham said.
He said investigators would have to determine whether the officer was pursuing Hylton or trying to stop him for a violation. Video is not enough to determine whether there was a pursuit, he said.
Police asked anyone with information to call them at 202-727-9099.
Janeese Lewis George, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 4 council seat covering the neighborhood involved, said she has worked to get answers. According to George, Hylton’s relatives say the officer who responded to the report of a moped operator with no helmet had previously seemed hostile to both Hylton and family members. “There’s going to have to be some accountability here,” she said.
In addition, George said, Hylton’s mother said a chemical irritant was used on her. According to George, the woman said that they had “sprayed me in my eyes.” The account could not be confirmed with police.
Katie Mettler, Fenit Nirappil, Paul Duggan and Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.