WASHINGTON — Two Washington D.C. fire department employees have been charged in connection to a street brawl that occurred in Northwest D.C. back in April, D.C. Fire and EMS confirmed late Monday night.
The two members of the fire department turned themselves in Tuesday morning to the Metropolitan Police Department's First District Substation, according to a spokesperson for DC Firefighters Association IAFF Local 36.
In a show of solidarity on Tuesday, dozens of D.C. firefighters in red DCFD shirts were seen outside of the police station as the two turned themselves in. After the two walked into the station, the firefighters outside burst into applause.
The two firefighters, identified as Lieutenant Sean Sinon and firefighter Reden Ecleo, are being charged with simple assault because of the brawl.
Several employees of D.C. Fire and EMS were put on administrative leave after a video showed responding crews engaged in a brawl with a man in Northwest D.C. The incident happened on April 25, near the intersection of Florida Avenue Northwest and North Capitol Street Northwest.
The fire department said they have been placed on administrative duties. The two firefighters are assigned to the Shaw Firehouse, according to the firefighters union.
Union President David Hoagland said firefighters are concerned by the charges and what they mean.
“[The charges are] incredibly frustrating to all of our members because everybody standing behind me thinks that this could be them tomorrow just going about the course of their duties,” Hoagland said.
We spoke with Attorney Phil Andonian, who represents Sinon.
“My client was actually assaulted by the purported victim in this case. He was arrested that night for assaulting a firefighter and somehow not charged is really really ludicrous," Andonian said.
Andonian says the man who punched his client was being disruptive and getting in the way of the first responders trying to do their job. He says they intend to take this to trial if the U.S. Attorney's Office does not drop charges.
"We intend to fight this to the absolute bitter end," he said. "If the U.S. Attorney's Office isn't going to make the right call and make this case go away we intend to push it an we will fight it all the way through trial."
Once the firefighters are arraigned, a court date will be set. The firefighters are likely to be released Tuesday afternoon.
Police originally charged the man at the center of the brawl with assault on a firefighter. Witnesses say he had climbed under a Metrobus, grabbed the wheel and refused to let go – prompting the call for first responders. Charges against that man have since been dropped, so WUSA9 will no longer name him in our reporting.
WUSA9 broke this story back in April as one of our photographers was at the scene when the brawl happened and caught some of the incident on video.
Our photographer said the man was belligerent and combative with several firefighters and then punched one of the firefighters in the face. That's when the brawl broke out.
The video that was shot by the WUSA9 photographer appears to show responding fire department staff and Metropolitan Police Department officers attempting to bring the man into custody.
At the time, D.C. Fire and EMS spokesperson Vito Maggiolo told WUSA9 in a statement that they were aware of the video. Maggiolo said six members of the fire department had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of a joint investigation between D.C. Fire and EMS and the Metropolitan Police Department.
"The actions depicted in a video of the incident are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the behavior we require of our members," Maggiolo said in a statement back in April.