City Desk

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.

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  • Outraged

    Ugh -- it also says the man was lying on the ground when police arrived. ("He was just moving" a moment ago, somebody said. Uh, that means he was on the ground, unconscious, bleeding, stopped moving when police arrived, and was sent to a hospital in, YES, an ambulance, folks. There are about 30 people in this investigation -- HU doctors, police, suspects, drunks, cokeheads, and...well... Can we believe the ones who were drinking all night? Or can we believe the accounts from everyone else who are forced to keep detailed paperwork -- hospitals for billing, ambulances for billing, police for crime-stopping... It is indisputable, then, that the man was on the ground and not moving. He was CLOSE to dead before he was placed in an AMBULANCE. What happened next? He went to crappy HU hospital, and died. If he hadn't gone to the hospital, he would have died, too. Murder, accidental, manslaughter... still wrong, folks. Let's see the videotapes, then!

  • dc_rez

    Will anyone be looking into the establishment where the gentleman was allowed to get totally smashed?

  • mrmoa

    For those of us who have longed dreamed for a war between Ethiopians and Yo La Tengo fans, this incident is a dream come true.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Why should we rely on the liquor board to tell us whether or not someone was murdered? I think this is a little outside their expertise. The big question: Why is the ME taking so long to determine a cause of death? The only reason I can think of is that they are waiting for a toxicology report.

  • 2501

    OK, how is this turning into some anti-Muslim thing? How in the world can you take a situation where a man was shitfaced drunk, tried to force his way into an establishment when it was closed, and then came back and threw a brick through their window and turn around and say that what happened was in any way due to the fact that he was a Muslim? Given that being shitfaced drunk is specifically prohibited behaviour in the Muslim faith, I'd say that is a very big stretch.

    Whatever the final outcome of this situation, it is already tragic enough, without some people who had nothing to do with it coming in and trying to exploit it to highlight their own personal issues.

  • Rick Mangus

    ABRA are IDIOT!

  • Ben

    It shouldn't be anti-Muslim because the man is Ethiopian...and Ethiopians are generally Christians.

  • Ethiopian

    We all Ethiopian are shocked by what happened. Even in our country, 3rd world, a man would not by killed by any one for throwing a brick into property that even has insurace. Hammm! All we are asking is justice!


  • Ethiopian

    This country the the top most of what u call first world. But what we hear have even never happened in the forests of Africa. Think four beat a single person to death!! for throwing a brick into property that even has insurace and in a place we think is "not wild". No one seem to care this young man was beaten to death like an animal on the street of Washington.


  • Keith B

    Would Christians name their kid Ali Ahmed Mohammad? Religion's totally irrelevant here though, so all the "he was such a good muslim, why would this happen" should cease! It really looks like he was beaten to death (or so close to death it might as well be) by vigilante bouncers.

  • Paul

    as I see he got what he wanted,anybody drunk looking for trouble and acting this way , if they dont know how to behave they should stay home .period. THIS IS NOT TO ANY ETHNIC GROUP . as it was an accident , the BLAME IS TO THE PERSON THAT WAS LOOKING FOR TROUBLE

  • Publius

    Just to clear up a few things: Ethiopia is historically associated with Christianity (having been the second country after Armenia to adopt it as a state religion in the 4th century), but depending on what stats you look at, it's close to 50/50 Christian/Muslim or even a Muslim majority nation at this point.

    And I've witnessed severe beatings in Ethiopia over far lesser things than a brick through a window. Anyone who has traveled through Ethiopia knows that beating thieves is a national pastime.

  • Another ethiopian

    I too am an Ethiopian living in DC but this incident has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It appears that Ali died as a result of a series of bad decisions on his part. as unfortunate as it may be, your actions have consequences and his was the ultimate of them all. Now it's time for the investigation to find out if he died because of the beating and if so then the owner of DC9 and his security will also face the consequences that is due to them. So let's stop these bias rants, marches etc until we know the facts.

  • mike

    amazing display of stupidity on the part of the victim followed by utter idiocy and a lifetime of regret and prison-rapings on the part of the dc9 staff. the only winners here are the defense attorneys.

  • yvonne

    Ali made wrong choices that fatal night, I get it, however that is no excuse for the savage beating that occured.The big puzzle to this picture is why it took 5 men to chase him and attack him as they did. Why not call the police instead of taking the law in their own hands.To first have the charges reduced to aggravated assult to ALL CHARGES DROPPED seems unjustified.I hope when all the facts are presented, justice will prevail.I also hope the truth will not be compromised.

  • 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.