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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 10/16/2010

Charges reduced in U Street death

By Michael Birnbaum

Five men were charged with aggravated assault today in the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed, who was allegedly beaten by the men on a street in front of a club at Ninth and U streets early Friday.

Four of the five men have been released, and the final person will be released this afternoon.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier called the incident, which occurred about 2:30 a.m. Friday, a “savage” case of “vigilante justice.”

Charges of second-degree murder were initially filed against the men. But the charges had been expected to be reduced because the D.C. medical examiner’s office has yet to determine the cause of Mohammed’s death, according to law enforcement sources.

More on this story to come.

--Michael Birnbaum

By Michael Birnbaum  | October 16, 2010; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, DC, Michael Birnbaum  
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Comments

The Washington Post's reporting on this story had been absolutely miserable.

Posted by: kz518 | October 16, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post's reporting on this story had been absolutely miserable. All the reporters appear to have done is transcribe what Cathy Lanier has said. Any new information on this story I have read, including that the medical examiner still doesn't know what the cause of death was, I have read in other sources hours before the Post mentioned it. All of these people are guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of Cathy Lanier and The Washington Post. I'm very disappointed in your coverage. So glad I don't subscribe.

Posted by: kz518 | October 16, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse


Did Chief Cathy L. Lanier jump the gun on this one? I don't think so because no matter what is determined to be the cause of death, these men were seen beating the deceased.

Why didn't they just hold him and call the police. Then he would be charged with destruction of property and the men would not have been arrested and detained.


Posted by: mortified469 | October 16, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse


: kz518...you don't subscribe but you do use the resources online. Don't complain when you are receiving a free service. I have been a subscriber for over forty years and will continue. The feeling of having a newspaper in one's hands is great.


Posted by: mortified469 | October 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the problem is so much the Post reporting - it is with the complications of "the law." Five men beating and stomping one man who ends up dead within five minutes. Sounds like murder to me. The police probably changed the charges because some slick lawyer could get the charges thrown out on a technicality. Just remember: 5 men beating and stomping on a person who ends up dead.

Posted by: CityWoman | October 16, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

CityWoman, if you've been following the story you'd know the charges were reduced because the medical examiner has not yet ruled a cause of death (homicide or otherwise). They are free to increase the charges once the ME releases a finding. But they couldn't keep them in jail for more than a day or two without charging them with something.

Posted by: mirrorball | October 16, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Fifty bucks says the ME is just off for the weekend and hasn't gotten around to a final examination yet. With budget cuts there's no money for OT on this.

Of course, last year Tony Hunter was apparently beaten to death by Robert Hannah, who got off with a misdemeanor. So its possible that murder by beating is not much of a crime in DC, especially if the victim is gay or Muslim or something else "unnaproved". Crime is interpreted much differently in DC than elsewhere, which is why I left.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | October 16, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Well he was in police custody when he passed away. I'm confused about what happened to the guy once the police got there.

Posted by: Nymous | October 16, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

One report said he was in police custody for 45 minutes before they took him to the hospital. Why? If he was knocking on death's door when the police got there, why didn't they get him to the hospital immediately? Howard U. hospital is about 4 blocks away. Either he hadn't been beaten, only held by the DC9 employees until the cops got there (in which case the police are lying), or the cops just ignored his alleged condition (in which case the cops were completely negligient).

Posted by: MyPostID27 | October 16, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Very strange situation. As she often does, Lanier jumped the gun and made statements that the US Attorney's Office obviously can't back up with evidence, which means that the charges had to be reduced. I suspect that nobody is talking about what the other guys did, and there's a scarcity of witnesses.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 16, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

There's something very strange developing with this story. Authorities must proceed with caution in reporting the facts. For five men to be given their freedom after initialing being charged with murder of an individual is incredulous. Lanier hasn't swayed from her original statement saying how vicious the attack was.

Posted by: skinfreak | October 16, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

The men who savagely and relentlessly beat this young man obviously caused his demise, so they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case reminds me of how depraved our society has become. Very sad.

Posted by: seemaz | October 16, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

in da city thugs rule

Posted by: pofinpa | October 16, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I have to comment on this. If that was my brother, cousin or Friend D9 would be burying 5 people someone did something to this young man and I don't care who says different. Two people stated they beat him. BS story from each of them . KARMA A B

Posted by: access11 | October 16, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I have to comment on this. If that was my brother, cousin or Friend D9 would be burying 5 people someone did something to this young man and I don't care who says different. Two people stated they beat him. BS story from each of them . KARMA A B

Posted by: access11 | October 16, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

They had to reduce the charges. Murder, 1st or 2nd degree, requires the intent to kill something that would be very hard to prove in this case. Just the circumstances of they beat him and he died aren't enough to sustain a charge of murder, especially if prompt medical attention wasn't given.

Posted by: ronjaboy | October 16, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Careful Washington, DC!! Al Jazeera is watching. Get your story straight.

Posted by: glenmayne | October 16, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post's reporting on this story had been absolutely miserable. All the reporters appear to have done is transcribe what Cathy Lanier has said. Any new information on this story I have read, including that the medical examiner still doesn't know what the cause of death was, I have read in other sources hours before the Post mentioned it. All of these people are guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of Cathy Lanier and The Washington Post. I'm very disappointed in your coverage. So glad I don't subscribe.

Posted by: kz518 | October 16, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse
=======================================
They are guilty unless proven innocent in the eyes of the LAW!!

Now, having said that, if they beat him to death, they should be charged with MURDER!! PERIOD!!

Posted by: Angryman | October 16, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

It's indeed sad. If not murder, I need to learn the law. Truly sad, either way.

Posted by: Supporter51 | October 17, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

ok, so i had to laugh out loud at Angryman's comment: the justice system in this country is actually based on the idea of INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. The burden of proof is on the prosecution - they have to show that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Not the other way around. So yes, these men are considered innocent (or supposed to be, but you wouldn't think that from the Lanier's comments or the media coverage) until they can be shown otherwise. If it were the other way around,we'd all be walkinga round defending our innocence.

That being said, this is a terrible thing that happened. A life was lost. But there are little facts known at this point. The truth will come out. I hope for teh victim's family that they figure out what happened, so that they can have some sense of closure. But i also hope for the suspects that the truth comes out so taht they do not go to tprison or have their lives ruined over something they didn't do. Do not speculate!

Posted by: mkfl | October 19, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

ok, so i had to laugh out loud at Angryman's comment: the justice system in this country is actually based on the idea of INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. The burden of proof is on the prosecution - they have to show that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Not the other way around. So yes, these men are considered innocent (or supposed to be, but you wouldn't think that from the Lanier's comments or the media coverage) until they can be shown otherwise. If it were the other way around,we'd all be walkinga round defending our innocence.

That being said, this is a terrible thing that happened. A life was lost. But there are little facts known at this point. The truth will come out. I hope for teh victim's family that they figure out what happened, so that they can have some sense of closure. But i also hope for the suspects that the truth comes out so taht they do not go to tprison or have their lives ruined over something they didn't do. Do not speculate!

Posted by: mkfl | October 19, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

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