DC9 liquor license hearing: Board continues suspension of club's license for 30 days

(Photo: Jay Westcott)

Updated at 5:27 p.m.

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DC9's liquor license remains suspended for 30 more days.

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D.C.'s liquor control board has voted unanimously to continue its suspension of DC9's liquor license for at least 30 additional days. A status hearing has been set for Dec. 1 on the matter, at which point chairman Charles Brodsky said he hopes to have a medical examiner's report and more information from the ongoing criminal investigation.

Representatives for DC9 were appearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in the wake of the Oct. 15 death of 27-year-old Ali Ahmed Mohammed. Mohammed was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly after an altercation with employees of the bar early that morning. Co-owner Bill Spieler and four of his employees were initially arrested for second-degree murder, but those charges were later reduced to aggravated assault.

The ABC board ordered a summary suspension of the bar's alcoholic beverage license on Oct. 19, following a temporary suspension issued by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Joe Englert, who co-owns DC9 in addition to numerous other nightlife establishments in the city, testified Monday that he accepted Spieler's resignation. He said Darryl Carter, Evan Preller, Arthur Zaloga, and Reginald Phillips, the four other suspects in the case, have been "let go."

Despite the personnel changes, Englert continued to assert that he was confident his former partner and employees would be exonerated. "Bill Spieler is a very serious person," Englert said, noting Spieler's habit of frequently attending community meetings and participating in Techniques of Alcohol Management classes offered by the 9:30 Club.

"I don't believe this for a second," Englert said of the accusations made against Spieler and his employees.

Much of Monday's early testimony focused on whether DC9's security plan, a document filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, was adequate to deal with the incident, as well as whether the five suspects followed the plan when they chased and attempted to restrain Mohammed after he allegedly threw bricks through the front window of the bar.

Office of the Attorney General officials argued Monday that DC9's continued operation would be a danger to the public, and asked the board to continue its summary suspension. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has asked the board to permanently revoke the club's liquor license.

During an often contentious hearing, representatives for DC9 managed to convince the board to allow them to introduce two recordings into evidence. One was a videotaped interview conducted by ABC 7 with DC9's Damon Dixon, one of the only employees present that night who was not arrested. In the interview, Dixon told a reporter that he observed Spieler standing far away from the incident at the time it occurred, and that Mohammed appeared to be alive and alert when police arrived on the scene.

The second was a not previously released audio recording of an ambulance crew radioing ahead to Howard University Hospital. A male EMT can be heard on the tape saying that he was bringing a 45-year-old male in apparent cardiac arrest to the hospital after what he described as a "bar fight." He also tells the hospital that the victim only became unconscious after police arrived on the scene, contradicting an affidavit filed in court that states Mohammed was not responsive when the first officer arrived. But Mohammed was 27, not 45, so board members indicated they couldn't be sure whether this recording was a credible account of the incident.

[Listen to the audio recording below. The relevant section begins at approximately the 1 minute mark.]

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