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Fire lieutenant in probe over failed response to heart attack victim submits retirement papers

Marie Mills holds a picture of her father, Medric Cecil Mills, at the home of a neighbor on Wednesday in Washington. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The District fire lieutenant who is being investigated after firefighters failed to help a man suffering a fatal heart attack outside their station in Northeast Washington has submitted her retirement papers, a city official said on Friday.

Lt. Kellene Davis, 51, has been with the department 28 years. Firefighters who are at least 50 years old are eligible retire after 25 years of service. Keith St. Clair, a spokesman for Deputy Mayor for Public Safety confirmed Davis’s filing. Davis could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Davis and another firefighter from the station have been placed on paid administrative leave while city officials continue to look into why no one from their fire station in the 1300 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE helped 77-year-old Medric Cecil Mills Jr. when he collapsed in a parking lot across the street on Jan. 25. Mills’ daughter said several people banged on the firehouse door but were told by a probationary firefighter no one could respond until someone called 911 and they were dispatched. Mills died at a hospital later that afternoon.

District officials including the mayor have reacted with outrage and promised a swift and thorough investigation. Officials said it appears the probationary firefighter who told people to call 911 had properly informed Davis, and the investigation is now centering on her. She defended herself in a letter to the fire chief, blaming another firefighter for misleading her about the severity of the complaint and what was being done.

It does not appear that the investigation will impact Davis’ ability to retire or the amount of her pension. She earns about $100,000 a year, and under pension rules is eligible for 70 percent of her salary averaged out over the final 36 months of employment. Her paperwork has to go through the chain of command and then to the Police and Firefighters Retirement Relief Board, a process that typically takes 45 to 60 days.

Officials said that fire pensions can only be reduced or eliminated if an employee is convicted of a crime of embezzlement from the city. Pension rules also stipulate that employees who want to retire during an “ongoing disciplinary investigation or allegations of serious misconduct” must contact the District’s human services department.

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