City Desk

Charges Dropped Against DC9 Five

Charges have been dropped—for now—against five men accused of beating a man to death outside DC9.

Police contended that witnesses informed them that DC9 co-owner Bill Spieler and now-former employees Darryl Carter, Reginald Phillips, Evan Preller, and Arthur Zaloga tore after Ali Ahmed Mohammed when the 27-year-old broke a window belonging to the club on Oct. 15. The men allegedly beat Mohammed, who might have been drunk when he pitched two bricks at the establishment. But others told a different story—Mohammed hadn't been beaten when he was caught, just restrained, and was fine when the police showed up to respond to a destruction of property call and took him away.

The men involved were arrested and, originally, charged with homicide. The charges were then  downgraded to aggravated assault. Now the U.S. Attorney's office has dropped the charges completely.

But a source familiar with the case says that things may not be as they  seem, and prosecutors could be dropping the charges merely because the autopsy report from the medical examiner's office is still pending. In that case, the office might bring charges against the men again, once the report comes out.

UPDATE: Here's a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, which makes it sound like this won't be the last word on the case:

Our work is not done. The tragic death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed demands that we undertake a careful and comprehensive investigation to determine precisely how he died. Today’s action was taken after a detailed examination of the evidence gathered during the first three weeks of the investigation and a determination that we need more information before moving forward. Our investigation will be informed by pending forensic analyses and the ruling of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on the cause and manner of death, important factors in any death inquiry.

The search for justice cannot be rushed, and we will continue to pursue an active and vigorous inquiry. This is a time of unbearable grief for Mr. Mohammed’s family and friends. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue our work.

UPDATE 2: The notice of dismissal tells us more about the situation and what may happen going forward.

"The government has determined that, given the current state of available evidence, there is an insufficient basis to proceed on the current charges at this time, and the government therefore is dismissing them. In doing so, the government reiterates that its investigation is not yet complete  and that it will continue actively. That investigation will be informed by the ruling of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on the cause and manner of death. This dismissal does not prejudice the government's ability to file charges arising from this incident against one or more of the defendants in the future."

UPDATE 3: Talking to DC9 defense lawyers, it's clear they see the dropping of charges as an exoneration of their clients. They also seem to be very angry at Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier for having earlier accused their clients of being vigilantes.

Preller's attorney, Danny Onarato, stated moments ago: "As we said from the outset, Mr. Preller committed no crime. Chief Lanier and the Metropolitan Police Department were wrong and did not conduct a full investigation before improperly jumping to incorrect conclusions. They trumpeted those incorrect conclusions to the press and that's wrong. We applaud the decision of the U.S. Attorney to dismiss the case."

Spieler's lawyer, Steven McCool, says, "Cathy Lanier owes Bill Spieler an apology for falsely blaming him for this tragedy."

Billy Martin, an attorney for Mohammed's family, however, thinks this is no time for backpedaling. "Ali Mohammed was alive and suffering with no problems until thrown to the ground by one or more of the people charged," he says. "This is not an acquittal. This is not over."

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  • Peyton


  • Rick Mangus

    How incompetent is this city government and you want to become a state, Ha!

  • CP


    So whatever state you lived in has never had a botched police investigation? at least this one was botched before too many tax dollars were spent on it.

  • Peyton


  • deeceefooodeee


  • Confused reader

    You know, shortly after the death and listening to the Police Chief, reading the Washington Post, and of course getting Jim Graham's informed opinion I was convinced the DC9 employees murdered the guy.

  • Burn in Hell DC9

    Yeah this is the city that was supposed to be running the country...can't even clean up obvious shit from their backyard. "Pending autopsy"...this is no less than a spit on a face. How long did they actually need to know if a person died from beating or not? Any person from the street can tell the obvious signs of a beating. The man was a leaving, breathing and walking person before they beat him up to death...oh and lets not forget..he died!!! If that is not homicide what is it? Even the police chief was certainly convinced it was homicide.

    Pls do not insult our intelligence.

  • Typical DC BS

    Try reading what the US Attorney's office said in their statement. They are merely waiting for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to rule on THE CAUSE AND MANNER OF DEATH.

    I can guarantee you that the Chief Medical Examiner's office will find Mr. Mohammad's death was a homicide and then charge accordingly.

    Some patience is in order. The wheels of justice turn slowly sometimes, but they are still turning in this case.

  • Been there done that

    Oh this is just the tip of the iceberg. The family should expect more shockers as this unfolds, I know from expereince how DC is the most corrupt city in this world where files will disappear, people will change stories and, unfortunately, the world will just sit by and let it be.... Unless the citizens who are concerned uprise and do something about it. Otherwise, its another 27 year old who just had hard luck, wrong place wrong time wrong action. Unfortunately. And the guy who can tell us the truth, well he is 6 feet under and cant defend himself. The family should be prepared for the worst and hope that the community rally's behind them and supports them to the end.... prayers ....

  • Shocking

    Shocking to everyone of us, this country trying to go to someone country to clean up and tell u this, we are here to help you and getred of your problem full of shit liers. Look what your decision on dc9 mmm you don't even clean your back yard. You know what is the reality is, Ali, he was breathing and walking before they beat him up,,, let us always remember DC one of the most corrupted city in the nation, we got to know that. Bless your heart poor Ali

  • Rick Mangus

    'CP', I wouldn't even give this a mention if it wasn't for the FACT, that this is the rule, not the exception in this town with the dysfunctional city government that allows children to be dead for months in their house with no visits by CFS. Allows court cases to be botched, over, over and over by MPD and the clowns at the U.S. Attorney's Office!

  • Robert

    Maybe the witnesses ARE crackheads!

  • Kevin

    The same nutjob is posting all this "most corrupt city in the world" stuff under different names.

    Get a life, man.

  • Truth Hurts

    Billy Martin and Typical DC BS are right. The dismissal without prejudice was a tactical move to buy time until the M.E.'s report is complete.

    FYI for Gray fans: Danny Onarato, the atty spouting MPD critiques, is a partner of Spagnoletti (Gray's atty and transition team legal advisor). You MPD Gray supporters feeling one city yet?

  • Robert

    Truth Hurts: and that is relevant to anything exactly how?? I believe lawyers represent those who hire them and then pledge to do their best. The politics injected in this tragedy are the result of Lanier and the Grahamstander.

  • DC public schools

    nobody is inocent untill proven guilty...oh sorry just got back from Mexico...maybe DC lawyers should go to school or the police chief should take pr training or just go back to PG county. Looks like the ME is running this show.

  • john

    Rend Smith, please keep your eye on this tragedy. I am stunned that the chief medical examiner is still working on the autopsy given the interest in this tragedy.

  • Lola B

    Ali was suffering? Yes, he was was walking up and down the street throwing bricks into windows. Drugs? Mental illness? Nobody charged threw him to the ground. They held him until the police came.

  • Hard Truth

    This is a predominately African American Muslim neighborhood, no wonder the story they gave the cops was bullshit.

  • Rick Mangus

    We the citizens of this town should demand a FEDERAL investigation of the U.S. Attorney's Office, MPD and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner if this matter is not resolved by the end of this week!

    Also a question, has the body been turned over to the family as of this date? The family should get an independent autopsy of the body!

  • 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.

  • HJ

    Raisin, who made you judge, jury and executioner?

    We're still waiting for the toxicology report, which i'm sure will reveal something else was going on with Ali...he was obviously drunk, and possibly there was something else in his system, drugs, or just an insane amount of alcohol, to make him throw a brick through a window of a bar that denied him access because it was 2:30 and they were closed.

    This one "witness" was most likely a crackhead, and so the testimony is probably faulty.

  • Raisin in the Sun

    "HJ" is either Bill Spieler or his wife.

  • TC

    From people I have talked to at DC-9 and on U Street this is not a simple case. This guy that ended up dying....something was apparently wrong with him. He kept coming back to DC9 and causing problems. It you have been to DC9 you'd know the bouncers there are not your typical steroid-fed goons - they look more like typical music-scene patrons. After the man threw an object through the window some of the bar staff attempted to subdude him and no actual fist throwing occured.

  • Raisin in the Sun


    If you had your guts kicked out, there would be "something wrong" with you too. The fact remains that he was walking and in apparent control of his bodily movements prior to being caught and stomped to death. Why do you people continually make excuses for the heinous acts of these rough necks? If one is a "gentle sort", there is no peer pressure in the world that is going to make that person join in beating up on someone. Ali certainly didn't kick the blood out of himself or kick himself to death. Get real.