A 25-year-old District man who caused a disturbance at a nightclub died early yesterday after he was taken into D.C. police custody, police spokesmen said.
Dr. Michael Bray, a deputy medical examiner in the D.C. medical examiner's office, said that alcohol and drugs were factors in the death of William G. Norman of 610 Irving St. NW. Bray would not say what caused Norman's death, pending completion of an autopsy.
Doctors detected a high concentration of alcohol, plus cocaine and PCP, in the body of Norman, who worked as a steward at the Mayflower Hotel downtown, Bray said.
Police said that Norman started a brawl at the Penthouse Club at 3530 Georgia Ave. NW just after 12:50 a.m. yesterday when he grabbed a dancer as she was stepping down from a stage at the end of her act. Club workers and an off-duty police officer tried to restrain Norman, said police spokesman William White III.
The struggle, which lasted a few minutes, spilled outside onto the sidewalk, where the employes held Norman down until police officers from the 4th Police District arrived, White said.
Norman, who police said was intoxicated, was placed in a police wagon and taken to the detoxification unit at D.C. General Hospital. According to police, officers noticed that Norman was unconscious when they arrived at the hospital and he was taken to the emergency room. Doctors pronounced him dead at 2:57 a.m.
The police department's homicide unit, which looks into unexplained deaths, is investigating. The off-duty officer, Linwood Logan, a 17-year veteran assigned to the 7th Police District, has been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation, a routine action when an officer is involved in an unexplained death. Logan was a patron at the club and was in civilian clothes at the time of the fight, police said.
Bray said that Norman had a high blood alcohol level in his body, as well as amounts of PCP and cocaine, but that the exact amounts won't be known until tests are completed next week. He said that there were numerous scrapes and bruises on Norman's body, apparently from the fight at the nightclub, but no signs of any fatal injuries.
Friends and family members described Norman yesterday as a gentle and quiet man who served six years in the Army before returning to Washington recently. Thursday night around 11:15, he left his father's house on Newton Street NW, telling family members that he was going out briefly. A family member who did not want to be identified said he appeared to be normal and composed.
But about 45 minutes later, residents of his girlfriend's apartment building on Irving Street NW said he was trying to break down the door to her apartment and yelling for her to let him in.
A neighbor, Charles Pittman, said that as he approached him in the hallway, Norman ran past him, and sprinted out of the building, then started lofting bricks through his girlfriend's windows.
"He was hollering," Pittman said. "He was acting too wild."
Norman caused the disorder at the crowded Penthouse Club about 45 minutes later, police said.