Arts Desk

AP: Deputy Medical Examiner Was “Pressed” to Deem DC9 Death a Homicide

alimohammedIn a deposition, D.C. Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Lois Goslinoski says she was encouraged to deem Ali Ahmed Mohammed's October 2010 death a homicide despite evidence to the contrary, the Associated Press reports.

Goslinoski says she was surprised by Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier's confident statements that Mohammed (pictured), who died shortly after he threw a brick through a window at 9th Street NW venue DC9, had been beaten to death by club staff. The examiner's autopsy "revealed no evidence that Mohammed was attacked or smothered, and there were no signs of injury that could have caused his death," reports the AP. Yet the examiner's office ultimately deemed his death a homicide in accordance with the opinion of Chief Medical Examiner Marie Pierre-Louis.

Four DC9 employees and the club's owner were charged in Mohammed's death, and the charges were eventually dropped. The prosecution later found that Mohammed "had been seized and restrained but not beaten," according to AP, and closed its investigation in June 2011. Mohammed's family still may pursue a lawsuit against club owner Bill Spieler and two DC9 employees; Goslinoski's sworn testimony could help the defense.

More from the AP report:

“We did everything we could to identify whether or not this man had severe blunt trauma,” Goslinoski said in the deposition, taken as part of the lawsuit. “I don’t think I’m unable to identify trauma if it’s there. We didn’t observe blunt trauma in this gentleman because it wasn’t there.”

The medical examiner's office eventually classified the death a homicide anyway, attributing it to "excited delirium—a state of extreme agitation and anxiety that can result in sudden death—along with fatal arrhythmia due to intoxication." Goslinoski says Pierre-Louis concluded that excited delirium deaths "may be classified as homicides if the person who died was restrained, even by a hand on a shoulder, or felt confined."

Goslinoski testifies that police officials seemed to take a special interest in the examination, "call[ing] the autopsy room about every 10 minutes to ask what she had found." The U.S. Attorney's office, meanwhile, "supplied her with witness statements, surveillance video and other information to help her make a decision—something she said she's asked for only about a half-dozen times in her career."

Goslinoski says she was surprised to see a newcast in which Lanier claimed Mohammed had been beaten to death, because her office had not "gotten a report like that from the hospital, from the doctor who called this case in."

Read the entire AP story here.

Photo courtesy Ali Ahmed Mohammed's family

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