DC9 will remain closed for now, ABRA ruled at a hearing Wednesday.
Lawyer Andrew Kline argued that the club should be allowed to reopen for several reasons. The club had retrained its staff, installed security cameras, and revamped its security plan. But the most critical point Kline raised was that the five club employees who'd been accused of aggravated assault were no longer facing charges in connection with the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed: "This establishment we believe has done everything that could be reasonably expected of an operator."
The charges were dropped because there was insufficient evidence gathered ahead of a preliminary court proceeding, but charges could be refiled once toxicology and autopsy reports are complete.
DC9 hoped the dropped charges would lead to it reopening before the end of its suspension, Washington City Paper reported. Arguing for the city, attorney Louise Phillips said the club should remain closed at least until the autopsy report comes in.
One of the sticking points for board members was that it wasn't really clear whether the men involved in the October incident would be working at a reopened DC9. When asked whether they would, Kline hedged: "Right now, no one is working there, the place is closed." He later said they would not work there in the "foreseeable future."
DC9 has been closed by D.C. Police since four employees and a co-owner were accused in the beating death Mohammed near the Ninth Street NW bar. 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. Kline argued Wednesday that when the five chased Mohammed, they were making a legal citizen's arrest, the City Paper reported.
Police said Mohammed was tackled and beaten. He was barely conscious when police arrived, and he died at Howard University Hospital less than an hour later.
Outside the hearing, protesters cheered when they heard the decision. Members of the Ethiopian community were upset that a hearing was being held which could reinstate the club's liquor license.
ABRA will meet to consider the case again on Dec. 1.