Lt. Kellene Davis retires without facing disciplinary action
(WJLA) - A D.C. fire lieutenant accused of not helping an elderly man who was dying across from her fire house had been waiting to find out whether she would be disciplined for her alleged actions, and whether she would be allowed to retire.
Lt. Kellene Davis was in charge when 77-year-old Cecil Mills suffered a heart attack and died across the street from Engine 26 back in January.
"It's something that I was personally and professionally disappointed in, and we've done everything we can to take the proper actions," said Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe.
Ellerbe had assured reporters that the trial board was finished deliberating, and expects to get their ruling in before next Thursday. He would then accept the ruling, either lowering it or refusing it altogether.
"The trial board activities were accelerated based on what we knew about her ability to retire," he said.
Next Thursday is the same day that the retirement board meets, and Davis, who has applied once before, was rejected and was reportedly thinking about submitting her application once more amid facing six counts of neglect of duty.
"I do want to have this resolved before she retires," said Ellerbe.
When D.C. Mayor Gray was asked if he would consider asking the retirement board to delay the ruling until the trial board releases their findings, here is what he said:
"I want to consult with the Chief [and] I want to consult with Deputy Mayor Quander because you'll have him saying one thing and you'll have him saying something else."
However, later on Thursday, it was discovered that Davis reportedly got the retirement board to sign off on her retirement one week earlier than expected, effectively beating the department to the punch. Now, Ellerbe admits that the department cannot punish her.
Although Davis faced a roster of neglect of duty charges, the 28-year veteran avoids any kind of reprimand or punishment, and will even receive a generous pension – thanks to the taxpayers she served.
The Mills family is deeply troubled by this development, and has released a statement that reads, in part:
"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."
On Friday, as Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe prepared to testify about his latest plan to revamp his troubled department, he spoke of Lt. Davis:
"We had every intention of of taking some sustainable action," he said.
Chief Ellerbe maintains that city law has his hands tied when it comes to disciplining Davis. Under District law, she is now eligible for retirement.
“I try not to interject my personal opinions and personal feelings in these decisions -- we have to follow the law as it is prescribed," he said.
Those familiar with D.C. government labor practices say that while troubling, Davis’ avoidance of punishment is not surprising as it has reportedly happened in other instances as well.