D.C. Fire Lt. Relieved of Command After Death Near Station

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014  |  Updated 7:10 PM EDT
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News4's Mark Segraves talked to a woman who says D.C. firefighters refused to help her father after he went into cardiac arrest. Now Mayor Gray says there will be a thorough investigation.

Mark Segraves

News4's Mark Segraves talked to a woman who says D.C. firefighters refused to help her father after he went into cardiac arrest. Now Mayor Gray says there will be a thorough investigation.

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A D.C. fire lieutenant was relieved of her command of Engine 26 in Northeast pending the outcome of an investigation after firefighters didn't go to the aid of a man who collapsed across the street from the station.

Lt. Kellene Davis, who was placed on desk duty while the death of 77-year-old Medric Mills is investigated, has not been accused of anything or charged with anything in connection with Mills' death.

Relatives of Mills say he was going to a computer store with his daughter when he went into cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon in a shopping center parking lot and later died.

Someone called 911, but right across the street was Engine 26.

Mills' family says several people went across the street to the station to ask a firefighter for help.

"I ran to the curb and I was like, 'Please can you help my father. Please, please, please,'" his daughter Maria Mills said. "And I said, 'Are you just going to stand there and do nothing and let my dad die?'"

The firefighter, a rookie, said he had to check with his lieutenant, News4's Chris Gordon reported. When he returned, he said he was told he could not respond.

"My dad was a great guy," Maria Mills said. "He did not deserve to go out like that in the city that he loved."

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety told News4 there are no regulations or protocols to prevent firefighters from taking action in this situation.

"What should have happened should have been reflex," Quander said. "It should have been something you don't think about. You respond. Immediately. Take care of the emergency. You do what you are trained to do. That's the expectation. That's a no-brainer. That's what should have happened."

"Everything I'm seeing about it is absolutely an absurdity," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday. "I talked to his daughter last night who is absolutely beside herself."

Gray called the incident “an outrage.” He says it's under investigation and “people will be held accountable.” He said those involved failed to show “common decency.”

One of the questions officials want answered is whether the 911 dispatcher deployed the wrong station, confusing Rhode Island Avenue NE with Rhode Island Avenue NW.

"Our duty is to respond to all requests for emergency assistance," read a statement from D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Tim Wilson. "If it is determined that proper protocols were not followed at the conclusion of our investigation, then appropriate action will be taken."

In 2006, New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum died from a brain after he was beaten and robbed in northwest Washington and misdiagnosed as drunk. The famly sued the city and settled the case when a task force was created. His family's lawyer, Patrick Regan, said the city promised that kind of neglect wouldn't happen again.

"So I think at this point you'd have to say the implementation of the task force recommendation has fallen short," Regan said.

The firefighters' union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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