On the ground in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

DC9 case: Cause and manner of death to be released soon

December 16, 2010 - 01:39 PM
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DC9
The findings of an autopsy in the DC9 case will be released soon. (Photo: Samuel Corum)

D.C.'s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has determined the cause and manner of death in the long-simmering DC9 case. But they won't release that information to the public until 27-year-old Ali Ahmed Mohammed's next of kin are first formally notified.

The formal notification process could be completed by the end of the day, but Friday or even Monday morning are more likely, according to OCME Chief of Staff Beverly Fields. A representative from the family's funeral home must first come in person and be presented with a death certificate, Fields said.

It's been just over two months since Mohammed died following an altercation with five (now former) employees of the U Street area nightclub. What really happened in the early morning hours of Oct. 15 has been the subject of intense scrutiny, with few clear answers. What's known is that Mohammed threw one or two bricks through the front window of the club, and five men who worked there, Evan Preller, Arthur Zaloga, Darryl Carter, and Reginald Phillips, along with co-owner Bill Spieler, then ran after Mohammed and attempted to detain him while they called police. Mohammed was pronounced dead a short time later at Howard University Hospital.

The five men were initially arrested for second-degree murder, but those charges were subsequently dropped by the U.S. Attorney for D.C., citing a lack of evidence. Prosecutors left the door open for charges to be re-filed at a later date, so the release of the autopsy findings could very well determine the course of the ongoing criminal investigation. "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," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen in a statement on Nov. 5.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment on the autopsy findings, saying only that the case remains active and open.

DC9 had originally been scheduled to re-open Wednesday, following a 60-day suspension of its liquor license in the wake of the incident. But those plans were abandoned for unknown reasons. The bar now appears to be set to open on Friday night -- so it's possible the autopsy findings could be available by then. Or, it could be a very long weekend of waiting.

Representatives for the Mohammed family did not immediately return requests for comment.

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