Darcy Spencer reports about the surprising announcement from the U.S. Attorney's office Friday.
All charges have been dismissed against the defendants in the case of a man's death last month outside of the DC9 club near the U Street corridor. The charges, however, could be refiled against the five defendants in the future.
The charges were dropped because there was an "insufficient basis" to back up the charges that the men conducted the alleged beating. A preliminary court proceeding was scheduled for Monday and authorities need more time to build a case, NBC Washington's Darcy Spencer reported.
“Today’s action was taken after a detailed examination of the evidence gathered during the first three weeks of the investigation and a determination that we need more information before moving forward," U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement. "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.
“The search for justice cannot be rushed, and we will continue to pursue an active and vigorous inquiry," Machen continued. "This is a time of unbearable grief for Mr. Mohammed’s family and friends. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue our work.”
DC9 has been closed by D.C. Police since four employees and a co-owner were accused in the beating death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed near the Ninth Street NW bar on Oct. 15. ABRA suspended DC9's liquor license on Oct. 19.
Mohammed, 27, of Silver Spring, Md., was kicked and beaten about a block from the bar at about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 15, police said. He was denied entry into the DC9 nightclub after closing and allegedly threw a rock or a brick through the club's window. Witnesses and police said the man was then chased down by the five suspects, who were inside the club at the time.
Mohammed was tackled and beaten, police said. He was barely conscious when police arrived, and he died at Howard University Hospital less than an hour later.
"How do we go from a savage case of vigilante justice, the chief of police saying that this young man was tackled, punched and kicked -- what the police said to me that morning was that he was 'stomped' -- how do we go from that and discussion of a murder charge to aggravated assault to no charge at all?" Councilman Jim Graham said. "And I think this raises more questions than it answers."
The co-owner, 46-year-old William Spieler, and the four employees -- Daryll Carter Jr., 20; Reginald Philips, 22; Evan Preller, 28; and Arthur Zaloca, 25 -- each was charged with one count of aggravated assault. Each was initially charged with second-degree murder, but those charges were reduced when the medical examiner couldn't link the cause of death to the alleged beating.
Now, all of those charges have been dropped without prejudice.
"As we have said from the outset, Evan Preller committed no crime," said Preller's attorney, Dan Onorato. "Chief (Cathy) Lanier and the Metropolitan Police Department were wrong and did not conduct a full investigation based on evidence before improperly jumping to incorrect conclusions. They then trumpeted those incorrect conclusions to the press, and that is wrong."
The D.C. medical examiner still has not been able to confirm that Mohammed died as a result of a beating. The U.S. Attorney's Office made it clear that the investigation is not yet complete, according to court documents. (Read the court documents here.) So more charged could be filed in the future.
"Our work is not done," Machen said in his statement. "The tragic death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed demands that we undertake
a careful and comprehensive investigation to determine precisely how he died."
Ali's family's attorney, Billy Martin, said the family "will have no peace until those responsible for Ali's death are brought to justice."
"The family remains confident that a full and complete investigation will reveal that prior to being chased and assaulted by some or all of these individuals, Ali was alive and healthy," Martin said in a statement. "The family also deserves to know the truth about how Ali died. ... More importantly, the family continues to grieve over the loss of Ali and prays for and demands justice."
Stay with NBC4 and NBCWashington.com for more information as it becomes available.