Erik Postell Pleads Innocent in Death of Paul Danzo

Erik Postell, 23, pleaded innocent Thursday to first-degree murder while armed and five other weapon charges in connection to the shooting death of 24-year-old Paul Aime Tanoh Danzo.

Charging documents state that prosecutors believe Danzo was murdered shortly after getting into a fight with Postell inside Balleto night club in Northwest DC.

On March 21, 2013, at approximately 2:50 a.m., police found Danzo in the driver’s seat of a car parked on the 1000 block of 17th Street Northwest, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the body and head. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Almost seven months later, Postell was arrested. He was the second suspect held in connection with the case.

Michael Smith, 33, pleaded guilty in Nov. 2013 to fleeing law enforcement, acting as an accessory after the fact to an assault with intent to kill, and one other weapons charge in connection to Danzo’s death. According to police, an anonymous tip claimed that Michael Smith drove Erik Postell from the scene of Danzo’s death.

Court documents describe several surveillance videos that captured images of Smith and Postell arriving in a black BMW and parking at the Colonial Parking Garage located near Balleto club, several hours before the murder. The video surveillance footage shows Smith, Postell and two other men entering the Balleto club, documents state.

Nearly three hours later, at 2:30 a.m., video footage captures Danzo and Postell getting into a verbal argument then Postell pushing Danzo in the back, who had already begun walking away. According to charging documents, Danzo then turns around and punches Postell in the face with a closed fist.

Around 2:47 a.m., witnesses heard four gunshots coming from 17th Street, and saw a black male turn and rush toward a black BMW that fled the scene, according to charging documents.

Documents state that a uniformed Secret Service officer patrolling the area heard the gunshots and pursued the black BMW fleeing the scene. During the chase, the black BMW traveled north 15th street Northwest, through a block where a pistol was later recovered.

Ballistic evidence recovered from the scene of the shooting was later matched to the .45 pistol recovered from the 1100 block of 15th street Northwest, which police believe was thrown out from the car as it was being pursued.

During Thursday’s hearing, the government offered Postell a plea agreement to second-degree murder, but Postell’s defense attorney Cary Clennon asked for more time to review it. Postell turned down a plea offer in January. He is scheduled to return to court for a status hearing on March 27.

An indictment has been added to the post below.

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