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Firefighters found not guilty of assaulting female firefighters at fire scene

The verdict ended a 17-month battle, which stemmed from a Dec. 2015 house fire

By FireRescue1 Staff

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Two volunteer firefighters were found not guilty of assaulting two female career firefighters on the scene of a house fire in 2015.

WJLA reported that Jeffrey Miller and Capt. Christopher Kelly, with West Lanham Hills Volunteer Company 28, were facing second-degree assault, interfering with a firefighter and misconduct in office. The incident stemmed from a house fire on Dec. 8, 2015.

Two female career firefighters from Prince George's County Fire/EMS were first on scene; they said Capt. Kelly tried to block them from entering the burning home and shoved Lt. Katherine Johnson off the porch.

Fire Chief Marc Bashoor described it as a "turf battle" between career and volunteer firefighters, according to the report.

"The career unit did arrive first, however, they only had three personnel on their fire engine," an attorney for Capt. Kelly said. "Meanwhile, the volunteer unit had five personnel … when they took action, they did it very swiftly and very efficiently."

During the trial, defense attorneys tried to discredit firefighter-paramedic Samantha Satterfield's testimony, saying it was inconsistent with her written statement submitted for the department's investigation.

While Satterfield reported in 2015 that she saw Johnson being "forcibly removed" from the porch, in court she said she only recalled seeing her colleague getting off the ground, according to WTOP.

Video evidence showed how the career crew tried to push and knock the volunteer personnel out of the way, according to the report.

"And that's where the volunteer responded with words and the video cut off because the person who was taking the video was another volunteer who went to intervene," the attorney said. "In fact, it was our position it was the other way around: that the career crew had assaulted the volunteers."

The trial lasted four days.

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