Washington, D.C. Fire and EMS said it has placed six members of its department on administrative leave as it investigates what appeared to be their involvement in a street brawl.
Video posted to social media was broadcast on at least one local TV station in Washington, which described the video as "disturbing."
The incident occurred at the intersection of Florida Avenue and North Capitol NW, not far from Capitol Hill and Union Station.
Fox 5 D.C. cited policewho reported that the emergency crew was responding to the scene of a car accident shortly before 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday. In the video posted to social media, multiple people can be heard yelling and almost cheering as others in the video — wearing D.C. Fire and EMS high visibility jackets — appear to be joined together kicking and punching someone in front of them. The video was filmed from behind them, using what was likely a cell phone.
Not the whole story
Authorities and local media said the firefighters were not fighting each other, but rather were trying to either defend themselves or fight another individual or individuals at the scene.
D.C. Fire shared a statement with Scripps News which said, "The actions depicted in a video of the incident are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the behavior we require of our members."
The department said "several members of the department were engaged in an altercation on the scene of a response."
A union for the members, the D.C. Firefighters Association, defended the actions of their members saying that "unfortunately" the video shown on local media "shows only a very small portion of the event."
The union said the video is a "misrepresentation" of the event and said it lacks "all of the fact" and the "complete story."
The union said the firefighters were providing care to a patient at the scene when "they were violently attacked by a person," and said that "forced" the firefighters to have to defend themselves "and the helpless patient under their care."
The Fire Fighters Association said, "Our members deserve the ability to render aide to the public without interference or fear of personal harm."
While the department investigates the incident, a member of D.C. Fire would not confirm if the firefighters are still being paid while they wait for the investigation to proceed. The department said it does not comment on the status of administrative leave.
Vito Maggiolo, a public information officer for D.C. Fire said, "We stand by our previously released statement pending the outcome of the investigation."
Maggiolo said, "It is standard procedure to place personnel on administrative leave while an investigation is in progress on questionable actions."
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