Protests have erupted in Washington, D.C. and four police officers have been placed on leave after authorities reviewed body camera footage of a fatal chase involving 20-year-old Karon Hylton, a Black moped rider last week.
CBS News reports the officers pursued Hylton for nearly two minutes because he was riding without a helmet. The 20-year-old collided with a non-police car on October 23 as he exited an alley and fell to the ground. He later died of his injuries.
"Officers activated their emergency lights and attempted to make a traffic stop," police said in a statement, according to FOX 5 DC. "When the moped exited an alley in the 700 block of Kennedy St, NW, the moped collided with a passenger vehicle that was traveling on Kennedy Street."
— Stephanie Ramirez (@RamirezReports) October 27, 2020
The footage, released on Thursday, shows officers providing aid to Hylton before he was taken to a hospital. Three days later, the young man died.
"We have very clear policies about no chasing," mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters. "It should be obvious by now. Why? Because chases can be dangerous."
According to the Associated Press, the city's regulations prohibit high-speed chases for minor traffic violations.
“If you make a determination that the person is fleeing, as a member of this department if you don’t have something very serious in nature, you need to discontinue the attempt to stop that vehicle,” police chief Peter Newsham said. "Otherwise, it becomes an unauthorized pursuit.”
Hylton's death has led to two nights of protests in the city. Newsham said eight people were arrested as tensions escalated during the protests and 14 officers have been injured.
Activists said officers used pepper spray on demonstrators, including against Hylton’s mother, the AP reported. Some stores were damaged during the unrest while the windows of the 4th District police headquarters were smashed.
“We understand that the community is upset, but you will agree that we can not channel that anger into violence,” Bowser said.
"You're defending a building. I'm defending my son!"
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 28, 2020
Hylton's girlfriend, Amaala Jones-Bey, is now left to raise her daughter without Hylton. The baby turned three months old on the night her father was killed.
"I don't have words for this," the grieving girlfriend told CBS News. "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, because it really is like leave you stuck, lost confused on how it's happening. I had a whole family plan, not today, not tomorrow, but I was going to get my family, and Karon was working towards that."
As protests continued around the country following the killing of George Floyd during the summer, the D.C. Council passed an emergency bill regarding body camera footage, the AP reported. The mandate requires footage to be released within five days of a death involving a police officer or the use of force.
“I think we can all appreciate that this is a time for positive change. But positive change doesn’t occur through violence,” Newsham said. “We police in an unbiased way. We police in a lawful way. If we see a member of the police department that doesn’t do that, they can no longer be a member of this department.”
According to The New York Times, several mayors around the country are facing pressure as activists advocate for police reform in the wake of ongoing killings of Black people.
In Seattle, activists are criticizing mayor Jenny Durkan as police mistreat demonstrators. In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, mayor Jacob Frey faced backlash during the summer after refusing to say he supports dismantling the police. Mayor Lyda Krewson of St. Louis was forced to leave her home temporarily when dozens of protesters showed up to her residence, chanting “Resign Lyda, take the cops with you.”