Authorities are still trying to determine who -- or what -- is to blame in the death of a 27-year-old man outside the DC9 music venue.
Five men implicated in the death of 27-year-old Ali Ahmed Mohammed outside the DC9 nightclub early Friday morning were each charged with one count of aggravated assault.
The men -- four employees and one partial owner of the U Street bar and venue -- faced arraignment before D.C. Superior Court on Saturday.
The D.C. medical examiner was unable to immediately confirm that the victim in the fatal altercation early Friday morning near the DC9 bar/nightclub died as a result of the beating. Since other factors may have contributed to Mohammed's death, the charges against the men were reduced from second-degree murder to aggravated assault.
According to charging documents obtained by News Channel 4, the officer who responded to the call observed all five defendants at the scene. Police later observed dried blood on the victim's face. One officer said that the victim's head was swollen.
Metropolitan Police Department detectives are continuing to investigate the case as a homicide.
The five people who were arrested and charged are: Daryll Carter Jr., 20, of Northeast D.C.; Reginald Philips, 22, of Northwest D.C.; Evan Preller, 28, of Northwest D.C.; William Spieler, 46, of Northwest D.C.; and Arthur Zaloca, 25, of Silver Spring, Md. Spieler is a part-owner of the establishment.
All five men were released and placed under a high-intensity supervision program, including electronic monitoring.
Judge Thomas Motley will oversee the preliminary hearing on November 8.
All five men were initially charged with second-degree murder after what police called the "savage" beating death of 27-year-old Ali Ahmed Mohammed early Friday morning, according to D.C. Police. Those charges could be changed back to murder, pending the investigation of the medical examiner.
Some forty supporters appeared at the courthouse today to support the DC9 personnel, according to reports on Twitter.
"They told me it's still under investigation," Mohammed's father, Ahmed Galchu, said after returning from the medical examiner's office Friday afternoon. "I want to know what the cause (was). Ali, 27 years old... [a] young boy, was killed. So I'm trying the media to (get) the truth."
The incident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. along 9th Street N.W. Mohammed, 27, of Silver Spring, Md., was kicked and beaten in the street about a block from the bar, said Lanier.
"Someone has lost their life from a savage beating with what appears to be vigilante justice; it's just ridiculous," Lanier said.
Police said Mohammed was denied entry into the DC9 nightclub, as it was closing time, so he threw a rock or brick through the club's window and fled.
Witnesses and police said the man was then chased down by five employees who were inside the club at the time. Police said the victim was tackled and beaten. Police said Mohammed was "barely conscious" when they arrived, and he later died of blunt force trauma at Howard University Hospital.
"He was critically injured when police arrived on the scene," Lanier said, adding that all five employees who were charged were at the scene when officers arrived.
Mohammed was pronounced dead at approximately 3:15 a.m. Friday.
DC9 employee and witness Damon Dixon gave a different version of the story than what police were saying.
"One was just kind of pressing him down; the other guy was just restraining his hand," Dixon said. "I did not see a single person punch or kick anybody... The gentleman was awake; he was alive. He was being subdued, but in no violent way."
He also posted the following: "Dead person from DC9 incident was alive and in MPD custody for at least 45 minutes at scene according to witness/amigo."
There also was an earlier incident at the establishment involving a different person. That person was arrested, charged and taken into custody. Lanier said she did not know if the two incidents were connected in any way. She said there was no evidence that the beating victim was in DC9 at any point that night.
Because of the two incidents, Lanier said she intended to shut down the club Friday.
DC9's website shows Friday and Saturday events are canceled. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday events have been moved to the Rock and Roll Hotel.
DC9 also posted the following message on its website:
"DC9 is deeply saddened by the tragic events that have occurred. Our condolences go out to the family of the victim. We would like to thank our friends, family, and all the employees of DC9. DC9 is a special environment of some of strongest friendships that could only be compared to a close family, which we consider ourselves. We very much look forward to our day in court. Stand strong bars & stars."
Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham sent out the following e-mail Friday morning detailing the incidents as he understood them:
Dear Friends, there was tragedy last night in the vicinity of 9th and Florida.
I have spoken to various people this morning and there are questions unanswered.
But, according to MPD information, here are what appear to be the basic facts:
An intoxicated person was put out of DC-9 at 1940 9th St. He returned and somehow managed to gain admittance. And was put out again. He then returned and threw two bricks (perhaps at one of the employees?) which broke the window. (Earlier that night, another patron had punched and broken a window, he was arrested for that again earlier in the evening.)
Bar employees chased the man down to the 2000 block, caught him and beat him. MPD arrived and he was transported to the hospital where he died.
Five DC 9 employees have been arrested and charged, some—at this hour-- with homicide. Arraignment is this afternoon.
There are questions unresolved in this matter. But MPD is now considering using the emergency police powers of the MPD Chief to shut the establishment for up to 96 hours, allowing the ABC board hold a hearing to consider possible suspension of the alcohol license.
More as additional information is released. Bests Councilmember Jim Graham