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A medical examiner has ruled the death of a man who died in police custody a homicide, Fox 5 reports.

Alonzo Smith, 27, was detained by two security guards in his apartment lobby in Southeast D.C. in November. The Metropolitan Police Department responded to a call about an assault and found Smith handcuffed and unresponsive while in the custody of two security guards known as the “special police.”

Officers took him to United Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

On Monday, The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Smith’s death a homicide due to “sudden cardiac death” complicated by “acute cocaine toxicity while restrained.” Details about injuries to his torso were also included.

Speaking with The Huffington Post, Mikelle DeVillier, general counsel for the district’s medical examiner, said the ruling was issued earlier this month, but a public announcement was delayed out of respect for the family.

Other details of the case caused suspicion, including the original police report.

The Huffington Post reports:

A police incident report obtained last month by HuffPost initially classified the offense as “justifiable homicide” with the “weapon/force involved” listed as “none.” That classification was later amended to “death report.” D.C. police spokesman Lieutenant Sean Conboy told HuffPost at the time that “it was an error on the part of the officer who took the original report.” 

Smith was also allegedly heard screaming, “Somebody help me, they’re trying to kill me.”

D.C. police are currently investigating Smith’s death. A formal press conference is expected to take place sometime this week. In addition to his job as a teacher’s assistant at the Accotink Academy Learning Center in Springfield, Va., he self-published a book of poems during his time in the youth juvenile justice system.



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