The death of Alonzo Smith, a special education teacher who died after being taken into custody by special security guards at an apartment building in southeast Washington, D.C., has been categorized as a homicide by officials, according to local reports.
— SocialPowerOne1 (@SocialPowerOne1) December 14, 2015
Smith, 27, was found unresponsive and in handcuffs on Nov. 1 before he was pronounced dead an hour later, reported FOX-5.
He reportedly ran into a hallway saying, “Somebody help me, they’re trying to kill me,” the Huffington Post reported, citing an eyewitness.
“In the early morning hours, my son was heard running through the parking lot and the hallways screaming ‘help, help, they’re going to kill me,” said his mother Beverly Smith, according to a WJLA earlier this month. “Not knowing the manner of death, and the identity of the security guards, this is ridiculous,” she added.
A witness told WJLA he heard some security guards speaking with investigators after the incident on Nov. 1. The man said the guards told police they grabbed him because he was “being difficult.”
A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia’s chief medical examiner said Monday that homicide was the manner of death.
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) December 14, 2015
The spokeswoman, Mikelle Devillier, says the cause of death was a heart attack complicated by “acute cocaine toxicity” and compression of his torso.
He was in the custody of private security guards known as “special police” when he died. The guards have arrest powers in the District.
D.C. police are investigating Smith’s death. A department spokesman says police plan to issue a statement about the findings. The original police report obtained by WUSA-9 said the offense was “justifiable homicide” but D.C. police said it was an error and changed the report to say death investigation.
— Purpelle Tramble (@PurpleReels) December 12, 2015
“I’m devastated,” said his grandmother, Early Clemons, 66, told the Washington Post. “This did not have to occur. I think he was killed. . . . You’re living one moment, then you’re dead. Please tell us what happened.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.