To: Cathy Lanier, DC Police Chief, Marbury Plaza Apartments, United Nations Human Rights Council, and Organization of American States Human Rights Commission

Justice for Alonzo: Charge private police force and launch a truly independent investigation

Alonzo Smith, a 27-year-old unarmed Black man, died in the custody of a private police force. Those private police have not been charged or even identified. We demand justice for Alonzo:

- Charge the private police force and officers in the killing of Alonzo Smith;
- DC makes transparent the laws and policies protecting privatized police;
- The United Nations or Organization of American States conduct a truly independent investigation into Alonzo’s death and DC police's lack of transparency in this case;
- Full community control over police.

Why is this important?

Residents of a Washington, DC apartment complex dialed 911 to report an ongoing assault and man yelling “they are going to kill me.” DC Metro Police (MPD) arrived to find two men standing over 27 year old Alonzo Smith, who was handcuffed and unresponsive. Smith was later pronounced dead.

The men were 'Special Police,' licensed by DC after only 40 hours of training, operating as a private police force with the power to detain and arrest. Privatized policing is a growing trend with most states offering some sort of Special Police license [1].

Even though Alonzo died in the custody of the private police force, they have not been charged or even publicly identified. Instead, MPD has released scant and confusing information- why was Alonzo arrested? was he the one being assaulted?- in what looks and feels like a cover up, even initially labeling the killing a “justifiable homicide.” [2]

Because DC police appear to be covering up of facts, they cannot be trusted to handle the investigation. Therefore, we call on the UN and OAS to conduct a truly independent investigation of Alonzo Smith’s death and the conduct of the MPD. We also call for community control over police so that police do not continue to act like occupying forces in Black communities.

[1] “Get ready for privatized police forces,”, 11-6-2015,
[2] “D.C. police investigate death of man found unconscious and in handcuffs,” Washington Post, 11-4-2015,