Death of Man in Custody of Security Guards Ruled a Homicide

The death of a man after he was taken into custody by two private security guards at a D.C. apartment complex has been ruled a homicide, the medical examiner said Monday.

Alonzo Smith, 27, died in November after being placed in the custody of special police officers at the Marbury Plaza apartments on Good Hope Road SE.

The chief medical examiner ruled that Smith's cause of death was sudden cardiac death complicating acute cocaine toxicity while restrained, and the manner of death was homicide, a spokesperson for the office said Monday.

An additional contributing factor to Smith's cause of death was the compression of his torso, the spokesperson said.

D.C. police were called to Marbury Plaza just after 4 a.m. Nov. 1 for the report of an assault in progress. In a press release, authorities said police who responded to the scene found Smith handcuffed and in the custody of the special officers. He was unconscious and not breathing.

Officers performed CPR, but Smith died a short time later at a local hospital.

Smith's mother, Beverly Smith, says she viewed her son's body at the medical examiner's office.


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"He had a broken neck, bruises on his chest, a swollen jaw," she said.

Family members are upset that the D.C. police officer who wrote the report initially classified the death as a "justifiable homicide," which officials later said was an error.

On Dec. 1, Smith's family held a vigil outside the Marbury Plaza apartments, calling for an independent investigation into his death. At the time, they said they hadn't heard much about the investigation into his death, but did know the guards were no longer working at the apartment complex.

Blackout Investigations, the company that provides security for the Marbury Plaza complex, has not commented.

Beverly Smith said Dec. 1 that she was especially upset that the security company has not reached out to her with condolences.

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