Quander: Nothing preventing Mills' family from filing lawsuit ag - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Quander: Nothing preventing Mills' family from filing lawsuit against city

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Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander
Medric Cecil Mills (photo courtesy of the Mills family) Medric Cecil Mills (photo courtesy of the Mills family)

The deputy mayor for public safety said Friday there is nothing on the books preventing the family of Cecil Mills from filing a lawsuit against the city.

Mills collapsed and died nearly two weeks ago waiting for help from a fire station that never came.

But the family's attorney says for people to be truly held accountable, the law needs to be changed.

The deputy mayor, Paul Quander, told reporters the city defends itself against lawsuits every day, and if the Mills family wanted to go to court, they could.

"Police officers, firefighters, the District, we are held accountable,” said Quander. “There are lawsuits that are filed. There are lawsuits that go to court. There are lawsuits that are settled on a regular basis and there are improvements that come out of those lawsuits.”

But in a Thursday news conference, the attorney for the family, Karen Evans, said the law stands in the way of true reform for D.C. Fire and EMS.

"What the people of the District of Columbia don't understand,” she said, “is that the law makes it extremely challenging to hold people accountable for these kinds of events.”

Mills waited at least nine minutes for help to arrive when firefighters inside the station across the street refused to come to his aid.

Investigators have singled out three people who were there that day: a lieutenant who was in charge, a firefighter and a rookie.

If found responsible, the family wants them fired on top of what is called tort reform if real change is to happen.

"Tort reform has been discussed for many years in the District of Columbia,” said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. “I would have to take a look at it again to be able to give you an informed opinion.”

As for the latest in the investigation, D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe admitted Thursday of calling the rookie at the center of the investigation in the days after the probe began.

"I talked to him, but what I talked to him about didn't have anything to do with the incident,” the chief said.

On Friday, Quander hinted to reporters the rookie may have been the target of threats and the chief was reaching out.

"We haven't identified anyone and when the media puts individuals names out there, then some people from the public will do things,” said Quander. “They will intimate that they are going to do things towards individuals. The chief contacted that individual to make sure, number one, he was safe, number two that he didn't have any concerns until this investigation completes itself. We don't want interference from any outside entity.”

The lieutenant who was in charge that day has been placed on desk duty along with a second firefighter. The rookie is still on the job, transferred to another station.

Cecil Mills, who was 77, and still working at the time of his death, will be remembered Saturday in a service at Canaan Baptist Church on 16th Street in Northwest D.C. -- the church his father founded in the 1940s.

Ongoing Coverage:

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