Liquor Administration Report Doesn’t Call DC9 Incident “Murder”
TBD points out that this reporter missed something interesting. The police charging documents and ABRA's report don't completely coincide. The police name Preller as the DC9 employee who tackled Mohammed, while liquor cops name Zaloga. The mix up could amount to a clerical error, but it could also be a sign of a flawed investigation.
Original post: An investigative report released by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) seems to back up police accounts that Ali Ahmed Mohammed was chased, and then caught, by five men working at nightclub DC9 before he died early last Friday morning. But exactly what caused his death is still up in the air.
Cops suggested through charging documents that Mohammed was beaten to death by owner Bill Spieler and employees Darryl Carter, Reginald Phillips, Evan Preller, and Arthur Zaloga after he threw a brick through DC9's window.
Supporters of the men have rallied around them, and expressed disbelief that club workers would harm the 27-year-old Ethiopian. At a vigil for Mohammed last night outside DC9, however, where a throng of mourners gathered and the crowd chanted that they wanted justice, Talib I. Karim, chairman of the District's Muslim Democratic Caucus, said Mohammed had been brutally murdered by the men.
ABRA, which is conducting its own investigation into the incident because it oversees and issues liquor licenses to establishments like DC9, seemed to stop short of calling what happened murder.
The report says that ABRA Investigator Erin Mathieson was able to establish that an October 15 altercation took place that involved "a male patron, an owner of DC9, and four security members." Though Mathieson goes on to repeat the story that the five DC9 men chased and beat Mohammed after he hurled a brick, she doesn't say that the beating killed him. "Investigator Matheison was able to determine that one of the owners, Bill Spieler, and four staff members then chased the man up the road where he was subsequently tackled and beaten until he was in an unresponsive state."
As part of her investigation, Mathieson interviewed Captain Michael Farish of the Metropolitan Police Department's homicide branch, who is involved in the police investigation of Mohammed's death. Farish told Matheison that things had gone bad after Mohammed attempted to enter the club:
Captain Farish stated that there were two issues there, the establishment was closed for the night and the decdent appeared to be drunk. Captain Farish stated that the decedent then left the area for a short period of time, and then returned with a brick and threw it through the front window of the establishment. According to Captain Farish, the owner, Bill Spieler, took off out of the establishment first, chasing after the decedent. Captain Farish said that the main security person involved, Arthur Zaloga, exited the establishment second and eventually passed Mr. Spieler and reached the decedent first. Captain Farish stated that it was Mr. Zaloga that tackled the decedent to the ground, and then he, Mr. Spieler, and three other employees of DC9 proceeded to kick and punch the decedent while he was on the ground. Captain Farish stated that there were witnesses who saw Mr. Spieler and Mr. Zaloga run out of the establishment and chase the decedent, and additional witnesses who saw the employees kicking and punching the decedent. Captain Farish stated that the decedent had a contusion and abrasion on the forehead, a laceration to the upper and lower lip, and significant bruising on the forearms. Captain Farish further stated that at this time, the D.C. Medical Examiner's office could not say definitely that the external wounds suffered in the beating were the cause of death.
Mathieson also interviewed the first cop on the scene, Officer Brian Morgan. The officer said "he was flagged down by a man, whom he later identified as Bill Spieler, owner of DC9." According to the document, Spieler told Morgan "that he had apprehended the suspect who broke his front window and stated that he was around the corner." The cop said he followed Spieler to the spot where Mohammed was lying on the ground with the four DC9 employees standing around him. Morgan said that "one employee stated the decedent was moving just before the officer arrived."
As more details emerge, the culture clash that seems to be happening in the wake of the incident is likely to intensify. Though a coming autopsy report could clear up a lot about what happened the night Mohammed died, it might not do much to resolve the tensions that emerged afterward. One man, speaking at the vigil Tuesday night, yelled that "America was built on the backbones of immigrants."
Later on, as the mostly East African vigil participants milled around, the mostly white patrons at Nellie's Sports Bar on the corner seemed not to notice the grievers, and no one from the vigil seemed to want to wander into Nellie's for a drink.