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New details from the trial underway in Prince George’s County, Maryland against two firefighters with the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department. Christopher Kelly and Jeffrey Miller are charged with assaulting two career firefighters at the scene of a house fire on December 8, 2015.
Defense attorneys Ann Koshy and Brian Bregman attempted to discredit the testimony of Prince George’s County firefighter medic Samantha Satterfield, who described being blocked from entering the home by Kelly.
They pointed out inconsistencies with testimony Satterfield provided in the courtroom versus a written statement submitted for a Fire Department internal investigation.
Satterfield stated in 2015 that she saw Kelly “forcibly remove” Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Lt. Katherine Johnson from the home’s porch. In court, Satterfield stated that it was hazy and dark and that there was a lot going on. She only clearly recalled seeing her colleague getting off the ground.
Satterfield also was questioned at length about multiple versions of the statement she revised before a final document was submitted to officials. Satterfield admitted getting advice from Johnson and her captain about wording. Changes included, for example, the word “pushing” being replaced with “shoving.”
Satterfield sustained no injuries in the encounter, she said.
Johnson described being struck “two or three” times on the chest by Kelly. A picture depicting red bruising on Johnson’s chest was submitted as evidence.
A third career firefighter on the scene that day stated he didn’t recall what happened. But prosecutor Renee Joy submitted into evidence an email from the firefighter sent to his union representative after the incident.
The email stated Johnson was thrown off the porch while grabbing the doorframe and hand railing trying to “hold on for dear life.” It detailed how he angrily told Miller that what Miller and his crew did was wrong. The encounter with Johnson shouldn’t have happened, in his words, “to a girl, much less an officer.”
Testimony from Satterfield and Johnson describe Miller arriving to the fire scene in plain clothes, grabbing Johnson’s oxygen tank from behind while attempting to pull her away from the home’s porch.