WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- When a D.C. ambulance erupted in flames while on call last week, images quickly hit social media. And sources say Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe was so furious about the embarrassing photos that soon after arriving at the scene, he forced a firefighter to hand over his phone.
That firefighter has now filed a simple assault complaint against Chief Ellerbe. The report states:
"The grabbing and taking of the cell phone caused injury to the complainant's right wrist. The complainant sought medical treatment for the injury."
Chief Ellerbe tells ABC7’s Jay Korff that he does not believe he physically hurt the alleged victim. The Chief admits that he requested and received the phone, but quickly returned it. He insists he did nothing wrong.
"Now with all the pressure I've been under over the last year and a half, I don't think I've lost my composure and I don't intend to do that about this," he said.
Dabney Hudson of the D.C. Fire Fighters Association says that if the allegation proves to be true, "It's egregious for somebody to do something like that -- especially as the head of an organization."
The agency has asked for an outside review of the situation as well as of a second ambulance fire from that day that suggests foul play or sabotage. ABC7’s sources say the ambulances broke down to overuse – a problem plaguing the agency.
"We've known we've had problems," said Chief Ellerbe. "The fleet has been challenged. We've had some very old equipment."
We also learned that parking signs were being jammed into some ambulance engines to prevent overheating. They have since been removed. And ABC7’S I-Team broke the story about a D.C. ambulance recently running out of gas while in the president’s motorcade, which Ellerbe calls "a cardinal sin in any Fire/EMS Department anywhere."
Despite all of these recent problems, the Chief stated that next Tuesday, his agency will announce that more paramedics and ambulances will soon hit the streets of Washington, D.C. He would not give an exact date, but said that by mid-2014, the agency will be replenished.
"We didn't let our stuff tip over the brink," he said. "And now we are going to turn the corner and really start to show you some good stuff."
No arrests have been made in the case.