Five DC9 employees charged with assault in man's death near U Street-area club (video)

Correction:

An earlier version of this story stated that the victim was refused entry into the 9:30 Club. The victim was asked to leave DC9, a nearby club. This story also originally said that responding officers found the man dead. It's not clear whether he was dead when police arrived. Also, police originally identified 25-year-old Arthur Zaloga as Arthur Zaloca.

This story will be updated.

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(Sketch: William Hennessey)

UPDATE Oct. 16 3:17 p.m. The five DC9 employees arrested Friday in connection with the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed have been charged with one count each of aggravated assault.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg ordered the release of four of the suspects, Bill Spieler, Darryl Carter, Evan Preller and Arthur Zaloga, under heightened supervision. Reginald Phillips will likely be released later today once the court is able to verify that he is eligible for heightened supervision.

All five men will likely be subject to electronic monitoring and curfews, but the exact terms of supervision for each man won't be determined until Monday.

A preliminary hearing in the case has been set for Nov. 8 Nov. 11.

The suspects appeared in court in full wrist and ankle restraints, each wearing gray plastic jumpsuits. Around 50 friends and supporters were gathered outside the courtroom waiting for the judge's ruling. Applause broke out when the crowd learned the charges had been reduced to assault.

The D.C. medical examiner has yet to rule on a cause of death in the case. Should Mohammed's death be ruled a homicide, the charges could once again be elevated. All five suspects were originally arrested under second-degree murder charges.

Outside the courthouse, attorneys for two of the suspects, Preller and Spieler, told reporters they believe D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier was "irresponsible" when she initially described the alleged crime as a "savage" beating and an act of "vigilante justice."

Lanier's comments to the press Friday were "ill considered and thoughtless," said attorney Steven McCool, who is representing Spieler. "Chief Lanier jumped to conclusions without the benefit of a complete investigation ... she should know better than that."

Charging documents filed with the court lay out the police version of events. A sworn affidavit from Officer William Covington alleges that when police arrived on the scene early Friday morning, Mohammed was lying on the sidewalk, "unconscious and not breathing," and that an officer performed CPR on him until medics arrived.

Police later interviewed two witnesses, one of whom reported watching the five defendants run after the victim and assault him. The witness "saw defendant Preller catch the victim and throw him to the ground." The same witness then "watched defendants Carter, Zaloga, Spieler and Phillips kick and stomp the victim on the head and the body as defendant Preller held him down," reads the formal complaint. The witness also claimed to have seen Spieler "kick Mr. Mohammed several times, then stop when the police approached and attempt to flag down the police."

The second witness also claimed to have watched Preller throw the victim to the ground, but that witness walked away for a moment and could not say for certain what roles the other men played in the incident. The same witness reported having observed Mohammed prior to the incident with a brick in his hand, and that when he asked Mohammed what he intended to do with it, he responded that he was going to "fuck those people up."

Officers reported having observed dried blood on Mohammed's face, and one officer observed swelling to his head.

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