Lots of developments this evening from the failure to respond to help a dying man by one crew of DC firefighters. WTTG-TV/Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner displayed what he has verified is an official statement about the incident sent Sunday from Lt. Kellene Davis to Chief Ellerbe. Wagner characterizes Davis as throwing “one of her own under the bus” (Wagner’s words) when she blames the incident on a firefighter under her command. In addition, what should have happened on Saturday has finally occurred today (my words) when it was announced Lt. Davis was now on desk duty while the incident is investigated..
As I wrote this morning, we are at a loss to explain not only the failure to help 77-year-old Cecil Mills, but the failure of Chief Kenneth Ellerbe to immediately take the crew off the street when he chief learned of this very serious allegation on Saturday. Or even Sunday when, as we know now, he had the lieutenant’s written statement.
Also, as I predicted this morning, both CNN and MSNBC aired this story today. The usual poor crisis management job by Chief Ellerbe, Deputy Mayor Quander and Mayor Gray has stretched this into a week long news event where developments come out little by little, with the news coverage growing each day.
Through it all, there has been no decisive action and no clear statement from Chief Ellerbe or his two bosses describing what went wrong. None of these three men has even bothered to stand up for the men and women of the department who are probably, to a person, as outraged as Mayor Gray says he is.
Looking at the news coverage for today, it’s clear another work day is over and Chief Ellerbe remains in hiding avoiding the cameras.
There is new information about the investigation of a man who had a heart attack right across from a D.C. firehouse. Cecil Mills collapsed in Northeast D.C. on Saturday and later died. People were screaming for help, but no one from the firehouse responded.
Now FOX 5 has learned the lieutenant in charge of that firehouse appears to be throwing one of her own under the bus.
The lieutenant’s name is Kellene Davis. She has been removed from command.
She wrote a letter to Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe. In it, she is blaming the whole thing on a firefighter who she says disobeyed her command.
Davis had nothing to say to FOX 5 as she left fire department headquarters Wednesday. We gave her the opportunity to tell her side of the story, but she said nothing.
On Thursday, we got our hands on a letter Lt. Davis sent to Chief Ellerbe which she titled an “Unusual Occurrence.”
In her statement, Davis says: “Firefighter G. Murphy informed me that someone had slipped and fallen across the street. I then asked (him) to get me an address and I will be right there. (He) did not return with an address. This was an (Unusual Occurrence) in that my order was not followed.”
That address is right across from the firehouse.
Davis says she went looking for Murphy, found him in the bunkroom, and he told her another ambulance already had been dispatched.
In her statement, Davis went on to say another firefighter, a rookie who heard the pleas for help, was counseled for not ringing the firehouse bells, which is proper procedure.
Five days into the investigation, we now know Davis is on desk duty along with Firefighter Murphy, who she is blaming for disobeying an order.
The rookie has been transferred to a fire station on Georgia Avenue.
Ellerbe has remained silent despite our repeated requests for an interview.
FOX 5 has also learned the firehouse is getting threatening phone calls. The fire department confirms this. Sources are elaborating by saying they are death threats.
Mayor Vincent Gray has promised a quick conclusion to the investigation. He says he was outraged by the firefighters’ behavior.