City Desk

A Peek Into the DC9 Murder Investigation

Hardcore punk band Agnostic Front played at nightclub DC9 on October 14 as part of their "Victim in Pain Tour." The title of their tour would take on dark irony at about 2:30 a.m., when, following their performance, police found Ali Ahmed Mohammed splayed on the sidewalk just down the street. Five men who work at DC9 are accused of putting him there, after Mohammed threw a brick through one of DC9's windows. Metropolitan Police chief Cathy Lanier called the alleged violence "savage" and  "vigilante justice."

But so far, many of the venue's supporters just aren't convinced. DC9 isn't that kind of place. It's not some shady top-40 club where you can get stabbed  for spilling a mojito on some guy's Air Dunks, or where the bouncers are thugs with hourly wages. "I've never heard of them having a fight there," says Skip Coburn of the D.C. Nightlife Association.

Though the soft spoken Coburn might not seem like the type to hang out at a trendy rock club, he does. In order to keep an eye on his association's membership, Coburn venue-hops each weekend. He's visited DC9 plenty and knows the staff well and can't imagine them beating a 27 year-old Ethiopian man (or anyone) to death. As for owner Bill Spieler, who was also arrested for the crime, that's an impossible pill to swallow: "He's a really nice guy. I can't see him beating up anybody."

He's careful to say everyone will have to wait for the facts to emerge, but Coburn repeats some of the rumors that have circulated within the pro-DC9 crowd: That the five men who chased Mohammed—Spieler and employees Darryl Carter, Reginald Phillips, Evan Preller, and Arthur Zaloga—after he shattered the club's window in retaliation for not being let in had merely tackled him. That they let him go after, and Mohammed walked away unharmed. That police arrived on the scene to arrest  a conscious and alert Mohammed who somehow, later on, died in police custody. And, most importantly, that a recording of a 911 call placed to police that night would exonerate the defendants. The defendants' attorneys also say their clients are innocent of the charges the police originally made, and that once the facts are out, that'll be clear to everyone.

But a police source involved in the investigation into Mohammed's death says those rumors are likely wishful thoughts on the part of DC9 fans. (The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk publicly about the case.) He says it's unlikely that Mohammed died merely of a tackle, and that he would bet that a least one of the five arrested will face murder charges. He also claims, as do recently filed charging documents, that the first officer on the scene began administering CPR to Mohammed.

"That's not something you do if a guy is conscious," the source says. The source believes Mohammed was probably already dead, though, when the officer attempted to save him. Court papers concur, stating that when cops arrived on the scene after responding to "a report for destruction of property," they found Mohammed "lying on the ground, unconscious, and not breathing."

The investigator also debunks the 911 recording exoneration-theory. He says he's listened to the 911 call people are talking about, and it doesn't get the accused off the hook. Far from it.

The source says the 911 call is "pretty long" and was made by one of the suspects who chased down Mohammed. The suspect called the cops from a cellphone to report that someone had smashed DC9's window, and then stayed on the line throughout the footchase. "There's parts they wouldn't like to have heard," is what the cop says of the recording's contents.

The cop says the two witnesses whose accounts appear in police documents are the best kind for authorities: "uninvolved." They have no relationship with either DC9 or the victim. And according to those accounts, the story is simple.

Around the time of Mohammed's demise, one witness who was standing on 9th street saw Mohammed go by with a brick in his hand. Just seconds later, the witness heard the sound of glass breaking and then "saw Mr. Mohammed running north with 5 males chasing him." The witness watched as Preller caught up with Mohammed and tossed him to the ground.

The witness "then watched the defendants Carter, Zaloga, Speiler and Phillips kick and stomp the victim on the head and the body as defendant Preller held the victim down." The witness claims to have watched Spieler "kick Mr. Mohammed several times, then stop when the police approached and attempt to flag down police."

The other witness initially reported a similar story, according to documents, but then changed it. The witness "walked away for a moment during the assault," so couldn't be sure "what role Carter, Spieler and Phillips played in the incident."

The source offers that the five suspects may have been on automatic pilot: "Sometimes people do things and they regret what they do afterward."

Of course, it's no surprise police investigators tell the same story as the charging documents they filed, or that they back up the case MPD first laid out on Friday. And the results of the medical examiner's autopsy—which wasn't able to determine a cause of death immediately last week—could throw the incident down yet another path. But the police account may help explain why Lanier was so quick to condemn the defendants, even though authorities wound up not having enough evidence to charge them with second-degree murder as they initially planned.

For now, the suspects have been charged with aggravated assault and placed in a high-intensity supervision program, which includes electronic monitoring. They will appear in front of Judge Thomas Motley on Nov. 8.

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  • Louisa

    If Mohammad was dead or near death, why weren't Dc Fire/ ambulance available to assist the police? It looks suspicious that the police would transport an allegedly dying/dead man to the hospital. How would you even get a dying/dead man into a police cruiser? Or did I hear this part incorrectly and Mohammad was in fact transported by ambulance to the hospital? any info on this point would be appreicated-- aren't DC Fire/ambulance records public?

  • Code-Name: “V”

    "did I hear this part incorrectly and Mohammad was in fact transported by ambulance to the hospital? any info on this point would be appreicated-- aren't DC Fire/ambulance records public?"

    That's part of the problem:

    One version has the deceased alive and conscious when MPD arrived, another unconscious and not breathing, yet another transported the three blocks to Howard by DCFEMS, another transported by MPD, etc etc...

    Not to mention that Howard University Hospital and HUH-ER are known for killing people/letting them die--espec. if they think they are "junk people".

    Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici

  • Rick Mangus

    All right everyone here are the facts, Ali thru a object and broke a window at DC9 and then fled the scene. The employees of DC9 should of called the police. In this day and age I am sure in hell sure that one of the DC9 employees had a cell phone on them. They could of followed him and relayed Ali's location to the police 911 operator. There was no need to get involved beyond that point.

    As far as the charges go it's a fine line here between first and second degree murder. First degree murder you have to prove a premedited intent to murder Ali which is anyones guess at this point. If one or more of the DC9 employees said let's kill this guy then it's falls under first degree murder. I would say until they can prove intent, then you would have to go to second degree murder, but defiantly not manslaughter.

  • munit

    Here are the charging documents: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39486686/DC9ChargingDocumen

    The way the charges have been reduced and the accused being released under surveillance considering the terrible nature of what they might have done... that IS really quite ridiculous.

    The fact that a broken window lead to a death is terribly tragic.

    A lot went wrong this night. He should have known better. They should have known WAY better considering their job is dealing with all kinds of belligerent or irrational or angry folks at the door. Minimize damage not maximize it!

    This article has the image of the accused. It is neither an all white or all black situation, but diversity of race does not equate to more or less guilt when it comes to anger/rage/mob mentality.

    http://www.tbd.com/articles/2010/10/man-found-dead-in-northwest-21726.html

    Really too bad!

  • GNS

    Code Name "V" if there are two different reports regarding how he was transported, seems like the police are covering up something.

    To those that are bemoaning the fact that if the victim were white then the situation would be different, just what alternative are you suggesting? That we just assume that the police version is correct?

    We need to wait and hear more info before charging that the DC9 perps are not facing as severe consequences because the victim is black rather than white. It's even possible that the Chief overreacted because the victim is black. Maybe it was a good move on her part to show a strong arm in order to avoid a riot. After all, look all these posts decrying the drop in the charge from murder to assault-- you can bet that the response would have been explosive if the Chief had instead started with "mere" assault.

  • Jade

    It makes me sick to my stomach to see how pitiful people can be. Taking away a human life for something as mediocre as a brick being thrown to a window?! Really??? I pray that these pathetic excuse for men get the punishment they deserve and suffer the great ordeal of pain that the victim family is going through. You best believe the Ethiopian community will make NOISE till we get the justice Ali and his family deserves. Count on it

  • Code-Name: “V”

    1)"Code Name "V" if there are two different reports regarding how he was transported, seems like the police are covering up something."

    If you mean "official" reports--nope. I don't remember if the MPD documents refer to transportation modality/agency or not.

    What I said, and what a lot of people are responding to, is: there are multiple versions floating around in the streets and on the 'Web...

    2) "you can bet that the response would have been explosive if the Chief had instead started with "mere" assault."

    As regards your point: possibly, I don't see that in that community "in-the-moment". However, as time passes with nothing truly definitive from The State the vitriol etc seem to be spiraling upwards spurred on by rumors and alleged intent (remember, a riot is rarely about the actual incident at hand)

  • Code-Name: “V”

    "you can bet that the response would have been explosive if the Chief had instead started with "mere" assault."

    I forgot to mention "cops" (Local LEOs) tend to "over-charge"; there are various reason, legitimate and not, for doing so--prosecutors and courts then make "corrections" as necessary.

  • Alen

    "That police arrived on the scene to arrest a conscious and alert Mohammed who somehow, later on, died in police custody."
    Wow BULLSHIT would be a understatement…
    Either you’re in denial or you’re just a dumb imbecile to say that these men are innocent.

  • Ethiosta

    There will be a candle light vigil for Ali Mohammed tonight at 6 PM at the intersection of 9th and U streets.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Alen', your right something smells big time here for sure and right on the other issue as well!

  • DCAV8R

    Funny, they left out the part about the dude having dried blood on his face......Seems to me, if the police were there in minutes, the blood would still be wet..... then again, he was in POLICE CUSTODY for 45 mins before he was taken to hospital. And he didn't throw one brick, he threw two bricks-----

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  • lily peter

    Any way he died. No one can bring him back. How peoples are rude. killed the innocent 4 a piece of GLASS. What a very sad and unbelievable story. May God save his soul in heaven. My prayers goes out to the family.

  • Justice

    Get judge judy! we need to put these criminals in jail for life for murder. 5 killers are walking the streets of DC...

  • Justice

    Killing is not the answer for damaged glass!!! They must be locked up for life. Those of you a fan of DC9 next time you will end up like Ali, Who knows. No matter what they don't have the right to take someones life for free!!! They have to pay the price of thier uncontrolled unger!

  • brian

    why do they keep telling us the owners are 'nice folks'. Hitler they say was a very nice personality until he started killing hordes of jews.

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  • max

    The other witness initially reported a similar story, according to documents, but then changed it. The witness "walked away for a moment during the assault," so couldn't be sure "what role Carter, Spieler and Phillips played in the incident."

    1.That police arrived on the scene to arrest a conscious and alert Mohammed who somehow, later on, died in police custody.

    2."a report for destruction of property," they found Mohammed "lying on the ground, unconscious, and not breathing."

    WHICH IS IT?

  • SEdcDude

    Good shit @ NOODLEZ as usual!

    This right here is a byproduct of that bitch ass Fenty administration! He enabled and empowered these sukka ass crakkaz into believing they are HIP, cool and can kill a nigga if confronted, hence the po po's new style of policing, the gun laws, which i'm in favor of, but confused as to where was this shit back n da day and U street being stripped and whitewashed business and consumer wise!!!

    JUSTICE better be served!

  • Pingback: Ethiopian Community Mourns Death of Young Man, Demands Justice at Tadias Magazine

  • NiggaPlease

    "...LET ME SHINE SOME LIGHT ON THIS SHIT FOR ALL YOU BAMMA ASS DC9 SUPPORTERS..."

    Let me shine some light on this shit: you're a white guy pretending to be a black hoodlum. And nobody's buying what you're selling.

  • NiggaPlease

    "...why do they keep telling us the owners are 'nice folks'..."

    Because the people that DC9, particularly Joe Englert, are not your typical scumbag club owners. Englert's a successful business and family man.

  • NiggaPlease

    Let's make this clear: your little pal Ali threw not one but TWO bricks at the club. The first that shattered the glass and the second at the people cleaning up the glass.

  • John

    Everyone really needs to stop with all the speculation and debating. The police have jumped the gun and started making accusations without any actual evidence. The physician who attempted to save the deceased didn't see any obvious signs of trauma and had no idea why this man died. For that same reason the medical examiner is struggling to even determine a cause of death. I would urge everyone to stop speculating as to which murder charges will be filed until the medical examiner announces their findings. At this point it seems highly unlikely the medical examiner will rule this as a homicide. We will probably get the answer from toxicology which will take a few weeks.

  • Faggot Please

    "Let's make this clear: your little pal Ali threw not one but TWO bricks at the club. The first that shattered the glass and the second at the people cleaning up the glass."

    Try again, DC9 has 2 windows, he threw a brick into each window shattering them. but go ahead and keep spreading lies and fairy tails in order to defend your killer friends (dc9killers)

  • NiggaPlease

    "Try again, DC9 has 2 windows, he threw a brick into each window shattering them. but go ahead and keep spreading lies and fairy tails in order to defend your killer friends (dc9killers)"

    The TBD interview of someone involved in the incident made it very clear that, whilst they were cleaning up glass from the first shattering, he returned to throw another brick. Perhaps he intended to throw it at the second window, but one way or another it is abundantly clear Ali was most certainly capable of being a violent person (despite his father's statements otherwise).

  • thisissad

    I CANT BELIEVE ALL YOU PEOPLE HERE...I PERSONALLY KNEW ALI AND HE WAS A VERY NICE GUY..

  • thisissad

    WHAT IF HE THREW A BRICK (OR TWO)..WHY CANT YOU JUST CALL THE COPS INSTEAD OF CHASING HIM DOWN A STREET AND BEATING HIM TO DEATH...I HOPE THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT SOON AND THESE PEOPLE GET WHAT THEY DESERVE..HE WAS A GOOD PERSON AND A GOOD FRIEND..I PERSONALLY MISS HIM SO AND LETS ALL BE CAREFUL OF THE DECISIONS WE MAKE CUZ 2MRW IS NOT GUARANTEED

  • Faggot Please

    "The TBD interview of someone involved in the incident made it very clear that, whilst they were cleaning up glass from the first shattering, he returned to throw another brick."

    That's a complete LIE and you know it, he threw two bricks into the window, he didn't aim at anyone, don't you think if he wanted to hit someone with the brick he would have went inside the club and threw it? (oops i forgot you have no common sense)

    and while you're dumb ass is attacking the victim for, of all things, "being violent" your savage friends SAVAGELY BEAT HIM TO DEATH! and they will get murder charges soon. just watch!

  • Still Fuzzy

    All of you people act like you were there... Friends of DC9 or friends of Ali, it doesn't matter. Just cut the shit. Speculating won't get you anywhere but into an argument with some dumbass on the Internet. After reading all of these comments it looks like there are more than a few ready to oblige.

  • Not so Fuzzy

    One witness told police that the men chased Mohammed and that Preller caught him and threw him to the ground, according to the affidavit. The witness watched Carter, Zaloga, Spieler and Phillips "stomp the victim on the head and the body" as Preller held him down, the document states. Spieler kicked Mohammed several times, the witness told police, according to the affidavit.

    A second witness gave police a similar account. The witness saw Mohammed walking with what appeared to be two bricks. The witness asked Mohammed what he was going to do with the bricks, and Mohammed responded: "[Expletive] those people up." The witness said that Preller caught and threw Mohammed down after the chase and that Mohammed was beaten.

  • tarek

    what happened to the 27 year old is terrible BUT he shouldn't have thrown a brick through the window; sounds like a true punk that didn't deserve to die, but that lived as a PUNK and criminal.

  • Dagem Negu

    DUE TO THE INFLUENCE OF LOCAL POLITICIANS DC9 HAS CONNECTIONS WITH, THE DC POLICE AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REDUCED THE CHARGES FROM MURDER TO ASSAULT WITH IN HOURS OF THE INCIDENT.
    DC9 WILL be SHUT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • DC public schools

    Hey all you stringem up hipsters yea ali is dead
    the police have the 911 call they have the body they have witnesses but still they reduced the charges.WTF
    Wait for the trial and find out what really happend before you go writting a story. Its all fiction till the trial. If they did it the attorneys for DC suck. If they didn´t then is´nt that a bitch.
    It all started with a stupid act and ended tragically.
    oh and DC9 don´t got no connections or they would be open.

  • Raisin in the Sun

    What I do not understand is how anyone WITHOUT brain damage could argue FOR the goons who murdered this poor,unfortunate drunk!

    Anyone who “reasons” that an acceptable punishment for property damage is “immediate death by stomp down”, is racist trash who does not “get” the law of cause and effect.

    Ali was alive before fleeing from these murderers and, soon after(having had a great deal of his life and blood stomped out of him—and having had eyewitnesses testifying to this FACT), he was dead!! Voila! What is there to ponder or discuss or view as inconclusive???

    That coroner is clearly incompetent (and, probably, some other unacceptable things as well—the “ahole” should be charged with giving a false statement for one…) if he/she/it cannot clearly see bruises on Ali’s dead body resulting from having had the stuffing kicked out of him!!!

    I pray that his murderers be sent to the electric chair ASAFP!!! If that is too much to ask, then having them serve life in the Federal Pen as someone’s beyotch will do.

  • LBH

    Citizen arrest are you fuckin serious. It does not take 5 men to beat and stomp a man to make a citizens arrest. That is bullshit and they know it. They know exactely what they did and it was clearly wrong and even if a brick was thrown in the window it should not have taken 5 men to beat down this one little guy. Seriously, only a freakin coward has to have mob to beat down one man, regardless of what he did and why. This was barbaric and at the end of a long day God know's the truth and those cowardly bastards who did it know the truth and no amount of justification can and will ever excuse this. I am a outraged and hope they all burn in hell.

  • LBH

    Another thing regardless of who tries to cover this up and why. Ultimately justice will prevail. Even if its not today or tomorrow and for the faggot ass punks who beat this man you will get exactely what you deserve.

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