On Friday, October 23rd Karon Hylton-Brown was killed in a crash on Kennedy Street NW while being pursued by the Metropolitan Police Department for riding a moped on the sidewalk without a helmet. While some elements of this fatal crash are in dispute, what is indisputable is that these are both minor traffic violations that should not result in any pursuit at all, let alone fatal pursuit. In fact, MPD has a “no pursuit” policy that forbids officers from engaging in this very conduct.
On Tuesday, October 27th a man was killed when an unmarked police vehicle crashed into him while he was riding his bike on East Capitol Street SE. While there are few details available at this time, this too is a needless tragedy created by unsafe roads, lack of critical safety infrastructure, and dangerous driving.
According to the ACLU report “Racial Disparities In Stops By The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department: Review Of Five Months Of Data” released in June of this year, while Black people make up only 46% of District residents, a whopping 87% of all police stops where no ticket or citation was issued were of Black people. By way of comparison, only 14% of stops were of white people who make up 36% of the District population. Furthermore, this clear and present race-based bias could only be documented after years of ACLU lawsuits against MPD to force compliance with the data reporting provisions of the 2016 NEAR (Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results) Act. This uneven distribution of police attention can only lead to understandable resentment and distrust.
We at WABA support the victims and survivors of these crashes. These events are not just “traffic accidents.” They are not just fatal crashes. To the family and friends left behind these are earth-shattering events that upend lives, destroy dreams, and rearrange futures. When communities, despite grief and exhaustion, with no clear path to justice, rise up to say “No more,” we support them.
MPD has an indisputable record of uneven enforcement rooted in bias and structural racism. This makes an external, thorough, timely, and transparent investigation all the more essential, with families of the victims included at every step of the process. There can be no trust or closure without public consequences for agencies and officers who break their own rules and cause pain and trauma in the very communities they are sworn to serve.
We stand with the many organizations and people calling for a timely, full, and open investigation of these crashes and we add our voices to the growing chorus demanding public accountability and justice for the victims, families, and loved ones who are suffering.