WASHINGTON – The D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a man outside a city nightclub two months ago a homicide.
Ali Mohammed, 27, died Oct. 15 after he reportedly threw a brick through the window of DC9 in Northwest and was chased by the club’s owner and four employees.
The medical examiner’s office Tuesday said its forensics examination concluded Mohammed’s death was a homicide caused by “excited delirium associated with arrhythmogenic cardiac anomalies, alcohol intoxication and physical exertion with restraint.”
The five DC9 employees initially had been charged with second-degree murder, but those charges were reduced to aggravated assault after the medical examiner’s office said the cause of his death could not be established through a physical autopsy.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office later dropped the assault charges after saying there was “an insufficient basis to sustain” them. In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says officials plan to review the findings of the forensics report.
“The Medical Examiner’s forensics examination has concluded that a variety of factors led to the death of Mr. Mohammed, and we intend to carefully study these conclusions as part of our legal analysis of this tragic incident,” the office’s statement says.
In a statement Tuesday, Mohammed’s family says they are confident the medical examiner’s findings are “a step toward justice for Ali.”
“The Medical Examiner¹s findings, however, also reminds us that Ali suffered a cruel and senseless death,” the family’s statement says. “Ali did not deserve to die for allegedly breaking a window. The family remains heartbroken and cannot have peace until those responsible for Ali¹s death are brought to justice.”
The medical examiner’s office did not say if one cause of the homicide was more of a factor than another in Mohammed’s death, and its findings are not a clear indication that charges are imminent against the five club employees.
According to the 2005 book “Forensic Pathology: Principles and Practice” (Academic Press), a finding of “homicide” by a medical examiner does not automatically equate to “murder.”
“When the designation ‘homicide’ is made, it does not necessarily mean that ‘murder’ has been committed or that somebody is to be held culpable for a person’s death,” the book says. “The medical examiner definition of homicide is simply that a person (or persons) killed another person. It is up to the court system to determine if murder has been committed.”
The report also does not list “blunt force trauma” or “asphyxiation” as a cause of Mohammed’s death — factors that likely would point to his murder. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier initially said Mohammed had been “savagely” beaten by the club employees, and later told WTOP she believed her description was reasonable based on eyewitness reports.
However, the finding of “excited delirium” may raise additional questions in the case. Excited delirium is a medical emergency condition in which those affected exhibit symptoms including aggressive behavior, shouting and violence toward other people, according to University of Miami researchers.
If confronted by police, the researchers say victims will struggle and exhibit incredible strength, before losing all vital signs after being restrained.
DC9 was allowed to reopen last week after a hearing before the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. The club currently is only open on Fridays and Saturdays.
ABRA spokeswoman Cynthia Simms tells WTOP Tuesday that DC9 will be allowed to remain open for the time being. A follow-up hearing had been scheduled for Jan. 19, at which the board will review the new information, Simms says.
She says the board also will consider whether DC9 has been following new security guidelines agreed to by the club following Mohammed’s death.