D.C. Lieutenant Working During Fire Station Death Bypasses Discipline

The D.C. fire lieutenant who was in charge the day an elderly man died outside a firehouse will retire without facing any discipline. 

Kellene Davis, a 30-year veteran of the department, was on administrative leave with pay since shortly after the death of 77-year-old D.C. resident Medric Cecil Mills. He collapsed and later died after suffering a heart attack at the Brentwood Shopping Center directly across the street from D.C. Fire Department Engine 26 in northeast Washington.

An official report found that, despite repeated desperate attempts by family members to summon help from the fire station, no one there responded.

"If we have people working for a fire department that's not accountable for a human's life, they're just getting a paycheck to get a paycheck," a friend of the Mills family told News4. 

Davis, who faced six charges of neglective duty, asked for immediate retirement following the incident, but was denied because of a required 60-day waiting period. Those 60 days passed, and last week, D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe signed off on her retirement. According to Ellerbe's spokesperson, the chief had no choice.

"She has completed the number of hours and years to make her eligible to retire and she has the age, and by law we cannot deny her an opportunity to retire," Ellerbe said.

The D.C. Department of Human Resources approved that retirement, a source told News4 Thursday, meaning Davis is no longer subject to a decision on discipline by a trial board, which is reviewing the events surrounding Mills' death. Ellerbe was expecting a ruling from the trial board next week.

"I expected the acrimony from the community because this event should not have happened," Ellerbe said.

Mills' family issued the following statement Wednesday when the news broke:

"Everything about this process has been shrouded in secrecy. Because their actions are so outrageous, we now understand why the trial board shut the media out of the hearings and did not allow us or our attorney to attend. 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. There should be laws on the books that hold D.C. Fire and EMS Department responsible and liable to those they harm in outrageous circumstances like that which lead to the death of our father. We are infuriated. Justice was not served. The system did not work. This is disgraceful.”

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