WASHINGTON — A lieutenant with D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services went before a trial board on Wednesday for charges related to the neglect of a dying man across the street from a fire station.
The trial board opened the hearing by announcing it voted unanimously to close the proceeding to the media and the public.
Despite pleas from reporters, the board chairman ordered the public to leave, citing safety concerns for parties involved.
Shortly after, one person taped sheets of paper over the windows to the hearing room, blocking any view.
The handbook does authorize the board to close hearings, but it supports their being open to the public.
“Even if you’re simply following the regulations that give you the right to do this, I don’t think it helps our cause,” says Keith St. Clair, spokesman for the deputy mayor for Public Safety and Justice.
“We want everybody to know what happened that day and get into as much of the ‘why’ as you can,” he says.
Cecil Mills collapsed with a heart attack Jan. 26, right across the street from Engine 26.
People who witnessed his emergency tried desperately to get help from firefighters at the station.
No one ever went out to provide help, and Mills, 77, ultimately died.
Lt. Kellene Davis, who was in charge at the station that day, became the first to go before the disciplinary board.
The board can make recommendations, including termination.
Because the meeting was closed, it’s not immediately clear what happened during the hearing.