Video Shows Moments Before Death of D.C. Man Detained by Security Guards

Police body-camera footage released Tuesday shows the moments before the death of Alonzo Smith, the 27-year-old teacher who died after he was detained by private security guards in an apartment complex.

The first-ever police body-camera footage released by District officials shows Smith, whose death was ruled a homicide, lying shirtless and barefoot near a staircase. The first moments of the 10-minute-long video appear to show a security guard with his knee pressed against Smith's back while he is lying face-down and handcuffed.

"He did have his knee on his back," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said said at a briefing. "We don't train police officers or security to do that."

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser cautioned that the video shows only "a small snapshot of what happened."

"The video does not show how Mr. Smith died, nor does it show whether the use of force was justified or reasonable," she said.

The video from one of the police officers' body cameras then shows the two men perform CPR on Smith for more than five minutes.

"Come on, brother, come on. I feel a little bit of a pulse," one officer shouts.

Lanier said 911 dispatchers received at least four calls just before 4 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1 about a person yelling at the Marbury Plaza apartments on the 2300 block of Good Hope Road SE. Two D.C. police officers arrived at 4:02 p.m. and were immediately told by private security guards that they believed Smith was high on the drug PCP.

The guards had restrained Smith, and the D.C. police officers "applied additional restraints" and performed CPR, Lanier said. A D.C. officer put handcuffs on Smith and then removed them while performing CPR, the police chief said.


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"Clearly, there was a pretty good struggle that had gone on," she said.

The D.C. officers called an EMS crew, and Smith was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Smith was a Southeast D.C. resident and father of a 6-year-old boy, The Washington Post reported. He worked as a teacher at Accotink Academy Learning Center in Springfield, Virginia, which teaches students with special needs, the paper reported.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell ruled that Smith died of sudden cardiac death complicating acute cocaine toxicity while restrained, a representative for the office said Monday. Compression of Smith's torso contributed to his death, the representative added.

"We also have evidence of the compression of the torso with the blunt-force trauma that we're seeing in the back, that's within the report," Mitchell said at the briefing Monday. "There's some evidence of that physically, not just in the video." 

Smith's mother, Beverly Smith, said Tuesday that she wants answers from police about what led to her son's death. She said she wants to see security footage shot at the apartments.

"What about the video that was on the outside of the building that was working during the time my son was running through the parking lot saying, 'Help, help! They're trying to kill me'?" she told News4 Tuesday afternoon. 

Beverly Smith previously said she viewed her son's body at the medical examiner's office, and he had a broken neck, swollen jaw and bruises on his chest. She said she believed security guards were unjustified in hurting him.

"Even if he did have cocaine in his system or any other drug in his system, it does not give them the right to beat my son to death," the late man's mother said. 

Blackout Investigations, the company that provides security for the Marbury Plaza complex, declined to comment on Monday about the incident.

Family members were dismayed the D.C. police officer who wrote a report on the incident initially classified Smith's death as a "justifiable homicide," which officials later called an error.

Ward 8 Councilwoman LaRuby May spoke at the briefing and accused D.C. police of not having strict enough oversight of private security officers.

A second police body-camera video will be released soon, showing footage from the other officer's camera, Lanier said.

Multiple sources told News4 a grand jury is hearing evidence in the case. It's unclear whether charges will be forthcoming.

"I'm praying that these two special police officers are indicted," Beverly Smith said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police by calling 202-727-9099 or texting 50411, or calling the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 202-252-7130.

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