City Desk

Did Police Jump on DC9 Case?

Could police have avoided the initial uproar over Ali Ahmed Mohammed's death outside DC9?

On Friday, the city's chief medical examiner suggested top Metropolitan Police Department officials could have gotten the facts right from the outset if only they'd checked in.

Dr. Marie Pierre-Louis was responding to a question put to her by Councilmember Phil Mendelson during a hearing of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Mendelson, who chairs the committee, wanted to know about the case because it seemed "unusual." His question:

The police, I think, initially announced that it was a homicide. It was a couple of months before you did the report. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. What can you say about that?

After Mohammed died, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters she believed five DC9 employees were responsible for beating the 27-year-old to death, after he smashed one of the bar's windows with a brick. "It appears to be vigilante justice. It's ridiculous. It's just ridiculous," Laneir said. But Pierre-Louis contended that one of the detectives working the case should have come by to find out what her office already knew at that point. "Our morning meeting is open to all the detectives," Pierre-Louis said. "Had one of them been at the meeting, they could have reported better information to the chief of police."

And what sort of information would the detective have come away with? Pierre-Lous said "the physician who saw this gentlemen, this young man at the hospital, stated in her statement that there was really no trauma visible to the body."

The examiner said that would have saved authorities (who ended up arresting the five employees but then later dropping all charges against them) from making an incorrect statement: "So they would have already had an idea of the misinformation, misperception that they had. Unfortunately, information got out before we had spoken to anybody, and without our knowledge."

Fraternal Order of Police head Kris Baumann attended the hearing and later had some strong words about the alleged mistake."It is extremely important that the police remain impartial prior to the conclusion of an investigation," he said. "Having said that, unnecessarily aggravating a situation by making comments when you have been given bad information is one thing. It is something else entirely when the police start making accusatory statements without even trying to ascertain the facts."

MPD hasn't responded to a request for comment. The medical examiner ruled Mohammed's death a homicide caused by "excited delirium associated with arrhythmogenic cardiac anomalies, alcohol intoxication and physical exertion with restraint." The ruling seemed to corroborate the story DC9 employees told: That Mohammed was restrained after the window was broken but not beaten. Prosecutors have said  they're still investigating Mohammed's death.

Photo of Ali Ahmed Mohammed courtesy of family

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  • Rick Mangus

    MPD strikes again!

  • DCBARTENDER

    I said it from day one, they didn't beat the guy. DC9 should sue DC police, and possibly the ABRA for slander and the ridiculous persecution they faced after Lanier, the Washington DC media, Jack Evans, and an angry Ethiopian mob tried to crucify these guys without any of the facts. Now it comes out that they could have just talked to the physician before that fateful first press conference when Lanier accused DC9's employees of Murder on television. Also Lanier and DC police continued to cling to there story while the case fell apart around them further inflaming the Ethiopian community. Could somebody at least apologize to these poor bastards? What about Ali's family? They were totally mislead about the circumstances regarding his death. Cathy Lanier should just give up say she totally blew it and step down. I also will not be voting for Jack Evens ever again, at first he seemed doubtful that the DC9 employees could of done such a thing, but when the angry mob gathered outside of DC9 after the charges had been reduced he got out in front of them and said "Thank God DC police has enough evidence to reinstate murder charges". Where is the Mayor in all of this?

  • GJ

    Once again Rick shut up Dick

  • OldSchoolDC

    @DCBARTENDER - Couldn't have said it better. So sad this all could have been avoided with a simple phone call / inquiry to the ME. I still think Lanier should be fired for ridiculously unprofessional conduct that resulted in the ruin of innocent people's lives.

  • Robert

    DCBARTENDER-You are right in all respects except one: It was not Jack Evans who commented, it was Jim Graham. Evans never said a word.
    I'm surprised Dick Mangus isn't saying Mendelson had something to do with this, given Dick's love of conspiracy!

  • DCBARTENDER

    DOH! sorry Jack Evans, I totally meant Jim Graham. Boooo Jim Graham for at first saying that he knew at least one of the parties involved and that it seemed out of character and then turning around a couple days later and selling them out to the angry mob. I think it shows a lack of character and that he should feel extremely ashamed. I don't think these guys are going to get any apology and that Ali's family's Lawyers are going to push them into a civil suit so they can get a return on their investment. So F'ed up for the Mohammad family and for the employees of DC9. Big ups to the Chief Medical Examiner for calling out MPD on their B.S.. I wonder if Cathy Lanier and MPD are scrambling around to figure out how they can still frame these guys so they can get off the hook. Can we at least get some kind of investigation into MPD's conduct in this matter? To me it sounds like Lanier said they murdered the guy on TV but when the initial reports came back not fitting her narrative she kept trying to railroad the guys so she wouldn't look like an idiot and loose her job. Does anybody even care anymore? doubt it.

  • Bora

    good for the citypaper in not forgetting the dc9 murder investigation. too many people have claimed ignorance on what happened. unfortunately this article doesn't serve to answer any of the questions the community has been forced to wait upon. hopefully the facts of the case will become apparent during the trial. until then, it's all heresay and speculation - which is damaging to both sides of the case.

  • Robert

    BORA-what trial???

  • Rick Mangus

    'GJ', GTH!

  • Will

    Cathy Lanier should make a very public apology to DC9, and to the people of Washington, DC. I can't think of anything more disgusting than sowing unnecessary strife in a case like this, which is a veritable tinderbox of racial/religious/other resentment.

  • Jo-Ann Fiscina

    I second Will's comment. Jim Graham,Cathy Lanier, and the Alcohol Board, as elected and appointed public figures, owe it to DC9 owners, employees, and their families to acknowledge the huge disservice they have done, and continue to do now with their silence, hoping the incident will fade from memory before they have to 'fess up. The Post coverage was/is equally deplorable for publishing inflamatory and incorrect information and photos and not investigating further as it became evident innocent people were wrongly accused.

  • sam

    They still assaulted him! Guilty in my book.

  • eddie

    @sam - no, they restrained him after he threw two bricks through the giant front windows of the establishment. that is not assault, detective. you're as bad as lanier et all. i'm glad your "book" is meaningless.

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