D.C. Lieutenant in Patient Death Retires Without Discipline

Davis appeared before trial board for neglect of duty charges


 
 

PAUL WAGNER, MyFoxDC | | Monday, April 14, 2014


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D.C. Lieutenant in Patient Death May Go Unpunished

Family upset that officer in charge may retire without any discipline.
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WASHINGTON (MyFoxDC) - The D.C. fire lieutenant at the center of the investigation into the death of Cecil Mills has gotten the signatures she needs to retire.

Kellene Davis received her paperwork from the fire chief last Friday, and other than a formality from the police and fire retirement board, she is now retired.

Lt. Davis went before a fire department trial board last month facing six counts of neglect of duty. But it looks as if she will be walking away without having to face any discipline at all.

Davis was the official in charge when 77-year-old Cecil Mills collapsed across the street from a Northeast D.C. fire station in January and no one went to help.

Just a few days after Lt. Davis was identified as the official in charge of the firefighters who failed to cross Rhode Island Avenue to help Mills, who was suffering from a heart attack, she notified the fire department of her plans to retire.

Under the rules, she had to wait 60 days before she could get the signatures she needed to make that happen. She got those signatures last Friday.

Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety, says Davis is now free to file her paperwork with the police and fire retirement board, and until then, she is still an employee. But that is really just a technicality.

"All the chief has done is said we have received your 60 days notice, the time period has elapsed, you can do whatever you need to do at this point,” said Deputy Mayor Quander in an interview Wednesday. “So the fire department hasn't approved anything, hasn't taken any action except to acknowledge the 60-day period has been surpassed.”

But sources familiar with the process say the rest is just a formality, and once Davis files her paperwork with the police and fire retirement board, she could be officially retired within days.

This then begs the question -- will she receive any discipline at all if found guilty by the trial board?

“No, they can't do anything retroactively,” said Quander. “But you have to ask yourself why is she retiring at this point in time. Does it have to do with the trial board?”

Davis spent more than 25 years with the D.C. fire department and was eligible to retire when the investigation began into the death of Mills.

We tried to reach Lt. Davis through email and by phone, but were unsuccessful. We were also unable to reach her lawyer.

Tommy Wells, who chairs the Public Safety Committee on the D.C. Council, said he wanted more information before making a comment.

The Mills family released this statement regarding Lt. Davis' retirement:

“We are absolutely shocked about reports that the D.C. Fire and EMS Trial Board did not take adverse actions against the D.C. Fire Lieutenant, who was in charge of the fire station that refused to help our father when he suffered a heart attack, before she was allowed to retire. 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.

This is yet another example demonstrating that the D.C. government and Fire and EMS Department does not care about its citizens. 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.

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.”

Karen Evans, the Mills family’s attorney, also issued the following statement:

“A decision to allow the Lieutenant off scot-free and to receive retirement without adverse action is outrageous. I spoke with D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander and he claims that the city and fire chief's hands are tied and there is nothing it can do. I refuse to believe that there is no procedural recourse or remedy available when a D.C. Fire and EMS employee applies for retirement under circumstances that allegedly resulted in a death. Are we to believe that a retirement without adverse action is always granted even where an employee has demonstrated allegedly gross negligence in a situation that resulted in death? Are we supposed to believe that the City and Fire Department are completely powerless and have zero discretion? Such a notion is preposterous and unacceptable. Where does the buck stop? Who is accountable?

The current rules and law governing the D.C. Fire and EMS Department and the Trial Board are inadequate and unjust. The manner in which this the case has been handled, from censorship of the media to secret public hearings, and the fact that no one has been held accountable to date, demonstrates just that. What harm must befall citizens before changes are made? How many tragic deaths must be suffered before there is any change in the D.C. Fire and EMS Department and the law?

It is obvious that the D.C. Fire and EMS Department cannot police itself or hold itself responsible. The public needs a method to seek justice when the D.C. Fire and EMS Department personnel are grossly negligent during circumstances resulting in a tragic death. We will continue to advocate for a law that requires the D.C. Fire and EMS Department to provide assistance when any of its personnel are made aware of a medical emergency in the near vicinity to a fire station so that this will not happen again. Likewise, we will continue to advocate for a limit on the public duty doctrine and for substantive changes in the D.C. Fire and EMS fire department so that medical emergencies receive the same level of heightened response as a fire emergency. If the D.C. Fire and EMS Department cannot police themselves, let the citizens serving on jurors do it.”

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D.C. Lieutenant in Patient Death May Go Unpunished


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