WASHINGTON — Relatives of Cecil Mills, who died across the street from a District firehouse after the firefighters there wouldn’t help him, unloaded on Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe at a meeting Thursday night.
Ellerbe faced pointed questions and accusations at a public meeting at the Mary McLeod Bethune Public Charter School Thursday evening, ABC7 reports.
“My sister doesn’t have a father, my cousins don’t have an uncle,” Cecil Mills’ son Medric Mills said in the hearing, adding that flaws like this in the system should not be tolerated.
Cecil Mills, 77, 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, but no one at the station provided Mills with help and he ultimately died.
“This city is supposed to be the flagship of everything this country stands for. And it’s not,” Medric Mills said.
Medric Mills eventually walked out of the meeting.
Among the family’s questions was why a hearing for Lt. Kellene Davis, who was at the station on that January day, was closed to the public.
“In my mind, it’s telling me you’re hiding something from me, or you don’t want me to hear what goes on,” Medric Mills said.
Ellerbe said it had not been his decision to close the meeting.
Marie Mills, Cecil Mills’ daughter, said she had since heard from others that the family was not alone in dealing with neglect from first responders.
“Maybe you need to go sit over there,” she said at the meeting. “Maybe some of us need to go sit over there.”
A woman at the meeting told Ellerbe, “Get that smile off your face; you shouldn’t be smiling tonight,” and hypothesized that the Mills incident contributed to Mayor Vincent Gray’s defeat in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
After the meeting, Ellerbe told ABC7, “What happened to the Mills family is something that shouldn’t happen to any family in the District. And we want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure nothing like that happens again.”