D.C.

Funeral held for Cecil Mills, who died near DC fire station

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Funeral services were held today for Cecil Mills, a man who died after suffering a heart attack near a D.C. fire station.

Photo: Hatzel Vela/WJLA

His family says firefighters and EMT's did nothing to help him. And now, an investigation is underway into exactly what happened.

Already a busy street, 16th Street and Newton became tied up with everyone trying to get to Canaan Baptist Church, a home going for Cecil Mills, Jr., 77.

"He helped people till the day he died. He was good to all of us. Always," says April Mitchell one of the hundreds at the funeral.

Mitchell considers herself part of Mills' extended family. Today, she wasn't the only one. The church, which holds about 600, was packed.

People had to wait in line to see the man many called a friend.

Two weeks ago, Mills collapsed from a heart attack, but wasn't able to get help even though he was across the street from a fire station.

Mayor Vincent Gray says he was there to comfort the family.

"You do the best you can," Gray says.

But even after the funeral, Gray wouldn't talk about the dark clouds looming over the fire department.

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson admits the public duty doctrine is archaic, but he says it works.

The doctrine says the city cannot be held liable for the injuries of a citizen because its workers are not doing their job right.

City Councilmember Vincent Orange also addressed the fire department -- and its leadership.

"You have this incident, you have other incidents and at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if we have the right leadership in place," Orange says.

 

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