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United States Attorneys Office

District of Columbia
U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Thursday, October 13, 2016
Public Affairs
202-252-6933
Website: www.usdoj.gov/usao/dc

U.S. Attorneys Office Concludes Investigation Into Death


Of Alonzo Smith at Southeast Washington Apartment
Building
No Charges to Be Filed Against Special Police Officers
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Columbia
announced today that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil
rights or local charges against two Special Police Officers involved in a confrontation
at an apartment building in Southeast Washington that ended with the death of 27year-old Alonzo Smith.
The U.S. Attorneys Office and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
conducted a comprehensive review of the November 1, 2015, incident, which
included interviews of more than two dozen civilian and law enforcement witnesses,
and consultations with the Chief Medical Examiner, Deputy Medical Examiner, and
Chief Toxicologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of
Columbia. The investigation also included the review of autopsy and toxicology
reports; body-worn camera footage which depicts part of the incident; 911 calls and
radio transmissions; Mobile Crime reports and photographs; physical evidence
recovered on the scene, at the hospital, and from Mr. Smiths vehicle; DNA,
fingerprint and drug evidence recovered on the scene and from Mr. Smiths vehicle;
and cellphone and cell site data.
After this review, the U.S. Attorneys Office concluded that the evidence is
insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Special Police Officers
violated Mr. Smiths civil rights by using excessive force or that they possessed the
requisite criminal intent at the time of the events. Rather, the evidence shows that
Mr. Smith suffered a sudden cardiac incident that resulted in death. At the time, Mr.
Smith was under the influence of a significant amount of cocaine and was being
restrained by the Special Police Officers, both of which may have contributed to the
cardiac incident. While the Medical Examiner listed the manner of death forensically
as homicide, reflecting that the conduct of another person may have contributed
to Mr. Smiths death, a manner of death determination is insufficient, in and of itself,
to establish that another person is criminally responsible for an individuals death.

According to the evidence, on November 1, 2015, at approximately 2:25 a.m.,


Mr. Smith arrived at the Marbury Plaza apartment complex, in the 2300 block of
Good Hope Road SE, to visit a friend in a high-rise building that is part of the
complex. After parking his vehicle in the 2300 block of Good Hope Road, Mr. Smith
went to the friends apartment. Between 3:10 and 3:30 a.m., Mr. Smith abruptly left
the building, apparently returning to his car. At approximately 3:30 a.m., one of the
Special Police Officers saw Mr. Smith run out from the building entrance towards the
grassy area in front of the high-rise. Mr. Smith, who was wearing pants but no shoes
or shirt, hid in the bushes; got up and hid behind the Marbury Plaza sign; lay down
on the ground; and ran back towards the front of the building. There was nobody
near Mr. Smith. The Special Police Officer radioed a second Special Police officer for
assistance.
Mr. Smith then ran towards the rear parking lot of the nearby three-story
garden apartments, and the Special Police Officers followed, walking approximately
50 feet behind Mr. Smith, who was yelling help, help. Mr. Smith continued to run
through the rear parking lot to the walkway next to the garden apartment building
at 2312 Good Hope Road, and then to the front parking lot while continuing to yell
help. Between 3:30 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., multiple civilian witnesses from inside
2312 Good Hope Road and from the high-rise apartment building across the street
saw Mr. Smith running around outside, shirtless and shoeless, and heard him yelling
for help. Some witnesses reported hearing Mr. Smith yelling theyre trying to kill
me, while another witness reported hearing Mr. Smith yelling shes trying to kill
me. None of the witnesses, however, reported that anyone was chasing or
assaulting Mr. Smith or that the Special Police Officers were doing anything other
than walking, at a distance, behind him. There is also no evidence that the Special
Police Officers ever caught up to, or assaulted, Mr. Smith while he was on the
grounds of the Marbury Plaza apartment complex outside of 2312 Good Hope Road.
At 4:02 a.m., a resident of the high-rise building reported seeing Mr.
Smith running around outside, and then running into 2312 Good Hope Road, with
nobody behind him. According to multiple residents of 2312 Good Hope Road, once
inside, Mr. Smith started banging on their doors and yelling help. Because the
residents believed Mr. Smith was on drugs, none of the residents opened their
doors. One resident saw Mr. Smith trying to climb the interior fire escape ladder that
leads to the roof.
At approximately 4:03 a.m., one of the Special Police Officers entered 2312
Good Hope Road and saw Mr. Smith on the top floor of the building. Two residents
reported hearing a voice calmly telling Mr. Smith to come down from the ladder and
to calm down. Mr. Smith then tried to jump past the Special Police Officer and/or
over the railing. The Special Police Officer grabbed Mr. Smith in a bear hug-type
move, pivoted, and put Mr. Smith onto the floor on the staircase landing that is one
flight up from the ground level. The other Special Police Officer arrived after Mr.
Smith was on the landing. While Mr. Smith remained on his stomach, the Special
Police Officers attempted to handcuff Mr. Smith, who was using his left hand to grip
the staircase and pull himself forward. The Special Police Officers ultimately utilized
two sets of handcuffs to secure Mr. Smith. There is no evidence that during this
interaction with Mr. Smith, either Special Police Officer punched, kicked, or

otherwise struck Mr. Smith, and no resident reported hearing any sounds of a
struggle in the hallway.
At 4:05 a.m., two MPD officers arrived and ran into the building. Both MPD
officers were equipped with body worn cameras, which were activated. Mr. Smith
was lying on his stomach on the staircase landing one flight up, handcuffed behind
his back. One of the Special Police Officers was kneeling by, and occasionally on, Mr.
Smiths lower back, while the other Special Police Office was holding Mr. Smiths
head down. As reported to the MPD dispatcher, Mr. Smith was conscious and
breathing at that time. The Special Police Officers informed the MPD officers that
they believed that Mr. Smith was under the influence of PCP. Upon being told that
Mr. Smith was under the influence of PCP, one of the MPD officers ran back outside
to the cruiser to get shackles for Mr. Smiths legs to further secure Mr. Smith in case
of a drug-induced violent outburst. The other MPD officer remained with Mr. Smith
and the two Special Police Officers. After the shackles were placed on Mr. Smiths
ankles, and approximately one minute after the MPD officers arrival, the officers
realized that Mr. Smith had stopped moving and making sounds, although he still
had a pulse. As one MPD officer again updated the dispatcher, the other MPD officer
began administering CPR, which continued until the 4:11 a.m. arrival of the first
personnel from the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Department. After several minutes of rendering medical attention to Mr. Smith and
finding no vital signs, EMS personnel transported Mr. Smith to United Medical Center
where, at 5:08 a.m., Mr. Smith was pronounced dead.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed the autopsy and concluded
that the cause of Mr. Smiths death was sudden cardiac death complicating acute
cocaine toxicity while restrained with a contributing factor of compression of
torso, and that the manner of death was homicide. There were no injuries to any of
Mr. Smiths vital organs, to include his heart; no signs of trauma to Mr. Smiths
spine, neck, or brain; no broken bones; and no injuries to Mr. Smiths face, teeth,
oral cavity, chest, or genitalia. The autopsy report further revealed that Mr. Smith
had blunt force injuries that were described as abrasions, contusions and
subcutaneous hemorrhages on his head (a 3/16th superficial abrasion), neck (a
hemorrhage caused by medical intervention); torso (minor contusions and
abrasions, and a deep muscular hemorrhage on his back); and extremities (minor
abrasions or hemorrhages on his shoulders, elbows, forearm, wrists, and feet).
Finally, a comprehensive toxicology screening revealed that Mr. Smith had THC,
which is the active ingredient in marijuana, and an exceedingly high amount of
cocaine in his blood. Cocaine intoxication can produce reactions similar to that
normally associated with PCP, to include hallucinations, an increase in body
temperature, and erratic behavior.
Use-of-force investigations generally
The U.S. Attorneys Office reviews all police-involved fatalities to determine
whether sufficient evidence exists to conclude that any officers violated either
federal criminal civil rights laws or District of Columbia law. To prove such
violations, prosecutors must typically be able to prove that the involved officers
willfully used more force than was reasonably necessary. Proving willfulness is a
heavy burden. Prosecutors must not only prove that the force used was excessive,

but must also prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted with the
deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. A conclusion that
there is insufficient evidence is not meant to suggest anything further about what
evidence, if any, exists.
The U.S. Attorneys Office remains committed to investigating allegations of
excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the
resources necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations
are fully and completely investigated. The Metropolitan Police Departments
Internal Affairs Division investigates all police-involved fatalities in the District of
Columbia.
16-197

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Bill Miller
Public Information Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia
202-252-6643 (Direct)
202-252-6933 (Main)
william.miller3@usdoj.gov