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Though the Metropolitan Police Department cuffed them on Oct. 15, saying they beat Mohammed to death after he allegedly chucked a brick through their club’s window, the U.S. Attorney’s office dropped all charges against Bill Spieler, Darryl Carter, Reginald Phillips, Evan Preller, and Arthur Zaloga in November.
Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced that it’s closed the investigation into the men for “insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges related to the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed.” The office found that despite assertions made by D.C. police that Mohammed was beaten, there were no signs that he had been. While this means criminal charges won’t be forthcoming, it could clear the way for a wrongful death suit Mohammed’s family has been contemplating.
UPDATE: In a new MPD statement, police have completely abandoned their initial accusations: “This case presented a unique set of circumstances whereby the initial reports from witnesses indicated that Mr. Mohammed was beaten to death. The Metropolitan Police Department made arrests based on those initial reports and all of the information that was available at the time.”
The statement goes on to say that although charging documents cited witnesses who said Mohammed was pummeled, those witnesses turned out to be unreliable: “The original accounts by witnesses was not discovered to be mistaken or inaccurate until a more comprehensive review of the medical and forensic evidence was done by detectives and prosecutors.”
“It is always tragic when a young person’s life ends prematurely,” the statement concludes.”The Metropolitan Police Department would again like to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Ali Ahmed Mohammed.”
Update: It definitely sounds as if there’s a civil suit coming. Acting as spokesperson for Mohamed’s family, Andrew Laurence says the family doesn’t see this as the end: “We’re disappointed at the decision the U.S. Attorney’s office made today. The family is going to get together with the community and not give up. We’ll continue to pursue justice, if not in criminal court, in a civil action.”
Announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office below.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced today that an extensive law enforcement investigation has determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges related to the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed, who died October 15, 2010 after an incident outside the DC9 nightclub, located in the 1900 block of Ninth Street NW. The investigation now is closed.
The decision was made following a wide-reaching investigation spanning more than six months and a careful analysis of the evidence by experienced homicide detectives and prosecutors.
Working with detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department, prosecutors interviewed many witnesses and potential witnesses, including employees and customers at nearby clubs and restaurants, as well as bystanders and others who were in the area when the incident took place. They also interviewed medical professionals who encountered or treated Mr. Mohammed, as well as all of the first responders on the scene. They repeatedly visited the scene and analyzed surveillance images taken from various vantage points, both official images and those made by private establishments. They reviewed all physical evidence, documentary evidence, crime scene photographs, and radio transmissions.
The investigative team worked closely with the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In addition, the team retained a nationally renowned forensic pathologist to assist in the investigation.
Early witness accounts suggested that Mr. Mohammed, who was 27, might have been beaten to death. The investigation revealed that those initial reports were inaccurate and unsupported by medical and physical evidence, or by other eyewitness accounts.
The evidence gathered in the investigation reveals that the incident began when Mr. Mohammed threw two bricks through the window of DC9. An owner and employees from the club chased, seized, and restrained Mr. Mohammed until police arrived. The evidence did not support a finding that the owner and employees beat Mr. Mohammed to death.
On January 6, 2011, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner issued its autopsy report. The manner of death was listed forensically as homicide, which means that others were involved, though not necessarily criminally responsible, in Mr. Mohammed’s death.
The autopsy findings confirmed that there were no significant physical injuries to Mr. Mohammed, and certainly none consistent with being beaten. The only injuries observed were consistent with being held on the ground. The cause of death was listed as excited delirium, associated with heart defects, alcohol intoxication and physical exertion with restraint. In light of all the evidence, the medical examiner observed no physical injuries that reasonably could be associated with criminal homicide charges. The independent forensic pathologist agreed with this determination.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office met earlier today with Mr. Mohammed’s family to advise them of this decision and again expressed their deepest condolences for the tragic loss of Mr. Mohammed.
Photo courtesy of Ali Ahmed Mohammed’s family