CRIME

Ali Ahmed Mohammed autopsy report: DC9 death ruled a homicide

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D.C.'s medical examiner has determined that the death of 27-year-old Ali Ahmed Mohammed outside DC9 was a homicide, but it was not the result of a "savage beating," as police initially alleged.

Ali Ahmed Mohammed
Ali Ahmed Mohammed (Photo: Mohammed family)

Instead, the medical examiner's office said Tuesday that Mohammed died due to "excited delirium associated with arrhythmogenic cardiac anomalies, alcohol intoxication and physical exertion with restraint."

The ruling potentially raises more questions than it answers. A homicide determination does not necessarily indicate that anyone will be found criminally responsible for Mohammed's death, and the listed cause of death is fairly vague.

Researchers at the University of Miami define excited delirium as occurring "with a sudden onset, with symptoms of bizarre and/or aggressive behavior, shouting, paranoia, panic, violence toward others, unexpected physical strength, and hyperthermia." It is often linked to cocaine and/or methamphetamine use, although it can occur in non-drug users as well. It has also been associated with several high-profile cases in which police brutality was alleged.

"Arrhythmogenic cardiac anomalies" is a generic term that describes unexplained heart trouble.

Mohammed died in the early morning hours of Oct. 15 following an altercation with five employees of the U Street area nightclub. He had allegedly thrown one or two bricks through the front window of the bar, and the employees then chased after him. At the time, police said they had two witnesses who saw the group of men kick and beat Mohammed to death, but others maintained the men had merely attempted to restrain him while they waited for police to arrive.

On Nov. 5, the U.S. Attorney for D.C. dropped all charges against Evan Preller, Reginald Phillips, Darryl Carter, Arthur Zaloga, and William Spieler, citing insufficient evidence to proceed, but leaving the door open to refile them at a later date.

In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's office indicated they have not yet decided whether they will file new charges against any of the five men. "We intend to carefully study these conclusions as part of our legal analysis of this tragic incident," reads the statement. "Our deliberate and comprehensive factual inquiry continues, and we again express our sincere appreciation to the family of Mr. Mohammed for their patience and understanding as we work to reach a just conclusion to our investigation."

"The family is confident that law enforcement will continue its investigation into Ali's tragic death and that the medical examiner's report is a step toward justice for Ali," said Billy Martin, an attorney representing the Mohammed family, in a statement released to the press. "The medical examiner's findings, however, also reminds us that Ali suffered a cruel and senseless death. Ali did not deserve to die for allegedly breaking a window. The family remains heartbroken and cannot have peace until those responsible for Ali's death are brought to justice."

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner delayed releasing the results of their autopsy investigation in the case on Monday when the director of the family's funeral home reported he had had trouble retrieving the death certificate due to a recent move at the vital records office. The health department later said the office had been open and conducting business as usual on Monday.

Stephen Tschida contributed to this story.

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