Liquor authorities ruled Wednesday that DC9 will stay closed for now.
At an ABRA hearing Wednesday, lawyer Andrew Kline argued that the club should be allowed to reopen for several reasons. The club had retrained its staff, installed security cameras, and revamped its security plan. But the most critical point Kline raised was that the five club employees who’d been accused of aggravated assault were no longer facing charges in connection with the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed: “This establishment we believe has done everything that could be reasonably expected of an operator.”
DC9 has been facing a 30-day suspension of its liquor license because of the Oct. 15 incident outside the club that preceeded Mohammed’s death. Originally, cops asserted that he’d been beaten to death by the five employees because he threw a brick through their establishment’s window. Since then, all charges against the men have been dropped for a lack of evidence.
The club hoped to reopen before the end of its suspension, in light of the derailment of the criminal complaint. Trying to convince the board, Kline made the argument that when the five men chased after Mohammed, they were within their rights, an argument he’s made before. “There was a lawful citizen’s arrest,” said Kline. But arguing on behalf of the city, attorney Louise Phillips pointed out that the men were still being investigated, and that the board should wait for the much-anticipated autopsy report of Mohammed before allowing the business to open its doors again.
One of the sticking points for board members was that it wasn’t really clear whether the men involved in the October incident would be working at a reopened DC9. When asked whether they would, Kline hedged: “Right now, no one is working there, the place is closed.” He later said they would not work there in the “foreseeable future.”
The board wasn’t in the mood for ambiguity. “How do you treat a licensee who chases someone down and puts their hands on them?” board chair Charles Brodsky would later growl.
Outside, when the news that DC9 would not be allowed to reopen reached a crowd protesting the idea of letting the place off the hook, they cheered. But Roger Gordon, who has been acting as a media adviser to Mohammed’s family, told the crowd the hearing was somewhat of a hollow victory, as it didn’t shut DC9 down permanently. “This is not justice—this is dicking us around,” he told them.
The board will reconvene on Dec. 1 to decide what to do next. They’ll be navigating some tough issues.