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Mills Family Wants D.C. Fire Dept. To Be Held Accountable

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Two firefighters have been placed on desk duty in response to the incident.
Chris Chester/WAMU
Two firefighters have been placed on desk duty in response to the incident.

The family of the elderly man who died of a heart attack after firefighters in NE D.C. failed to help is demanding justice.

They stood across the street from the firehouse where 77-year-old Cecil Mills died; his family demanding the District fire everyone involved with the failure to help. They say when Mills collapsed, no one in the firehouse would walked across to the street to help him.

"There must be accountability. When D.C. residents suffer medical emergencies directly in front of the fire station and not receive help, serious reform is needed," said Cecil Mills, the elder Mills' son of the same name.

The Mills family was flanked at the news conference by lawyers from the Cochran firm. Attorney Karen Evans said it would be inappropriate to talk about suing the District at this time, but she demanded changes to a law that makes it difficult to sue under such circumstances.

"There is a doctrine called the public duty doctrine and it is tragically the law of the land in the District of Columbia," Evans said. "It's a nice name. It sounds like a positive and beneficial law but in reality it hurts families that are harmed by carelessness of city employees."

Standing beside her, Mills' wife of 55 years, Sandra.

"I have known this man all my adult life and I loved him, and for this city to take him away... but we have people that just don't care," Sandra said.

An official investigation is focusing on the role played by the lieutenant in charge the afternoon the Mills collapsed. In response to the incident, Lt. Kellene Davis and another firefighter have been placed on desk duty. A separate investigation is being conducted to determine why an ambulance was sent to the wrong location.

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