WASHINGTON - A vigil was held in Southeast D.C. to remember a man who died while in custody of special police officers one month ago.
Alonzo Smith was found handcuffed and unresponsive inside an apartment complex on Nov. 1. He later died at the hospital.
The 27-year-old’s family is still searching for answers as to what happened that day.
Beverly Smith says she doesn't know why her son, a teacher’s assistant in Springfield, Virginia, was at the Marbury Plaza Apartments on Good Hope Road when he was detained by special police officers contracted to provide security at the complex.
Special police officers are essentially armed security guards with the power to arrest and are licensed by the District.
Once D.C. police arrived that night, Smith was still in handcuffs, but was unconscious. D.C. police initially qualified his death as a "justifiable homicide." But it was later reclassified as a death report.
“I reviewed my son’s body myself,” said Smith. “My son had two black eyes, his neck broken, his shoulder broken. He had massive bruises on his neck. He had three round circle marks on his chest and he was bruised in his groin. Also, his jaw was swollen.
The two officers involved who have yet to be named. They have been suspended and have had their police powers revoked.
"I should know who those security officers were and I don't understand why. It does not make sense to me. If it were regular police officers, their identity would be revealed.”
Family, friends and community members gathered Tuesday night outside the very apartment complex where Smith died. There was a large presence of special police from this building surrounding the vigil.
The official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner’s office, but results are still pending.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating this case.