News & Politics

DC Fire Lieutenant in Charge of Station That Failed to Help Dying Man Allowed to Retire

A 28-year veteran of the DC Fire Department won’t face any discipline for the January 25 death of Medric Mills Jr.

Photograph by Flickr user tyrab77.

The DC Fire Department lieutenant accused of ignoring a dying man outside her fire station retired yesterday before she could face any disciplinary action.

Lt. Kellene Davis, a 28-year veteran of the department, was in charge of a fire station on Rhode Island Ave., NE, on January 25 when 77-year-old Medric Mills Jr. collapsed on the sidewalk across the street after suffering a heart attack and later died after none of the fire fighters under Davis’s command responded to pleas for help. Davis’s conduct that day was under review by the Fire Department’s trial board, but with her retirement approved, she is entitled to her full pension and benefits without ever being disciplined in the case of Mills’s death.

Davis originally asked to retire days after Mills died, but Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe told the Washington Post he denied her request to give the department time to review the incident. However, Ellerbe said he had no legal authority to stop Davis from retiring before the trial board could reach a verdict on her. As a result, whatever decision the trial board may have reached is moot now that Davis is out.

Davis and four other fire fighters were on duty when Mills suffered his heart attack. Despite please from Mills’s daughter and other witnesses, no one from Engine 26 came to his aid. Davis was charged with six violations of duty, including an unreasonable failure to assist a member of the public. Her disciplinary hearing last month was also carried out in secret, with the trial board kicking out reporters and members of Mills’s family.

Mills’s family is understandably angry with Davis retiring.

“We are angry and frustrated that the trial board has allowed the lieutenant who did not do her job and whose inaction prevented a life from being saved is allowed to retire with no adverse action being taken,” a statement from the Mills family reads. “The public should be shocked that its public servants who have a duty to protect them are not held accountable when they neglect their duties. We are infuriated. Justice was not served. The system did not work. This is disgraceful.”