Former DC Firefighter Wrongly Arrested Gets $390k Settlement

A former DC firefighter who spent two years in prison in Virginia has agreed to a $390,000 settlement from Fairfax County.  Elon Wilson lost his job with DC Fire & EMS after being arrested by a police officer who later resigned while facing accusations of making pretextual stops.

Wilson was arrested in 2018 by then-Officer Jonathan A. Freitag. Freitag charged Wilson with possession of drugs and firearms. Wilson claimed the items were not his, but accepted a plea deal to avoid a longer prison sentence. He was fired from the D.C. Fire & EMS Department.

Freitag soon fell under suspicion by his own department and the courts as well. Attorney Marvin D. Miller took up Wilson’s cause, filed suit and pressed the county for more details. The Washington Post quoted Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Daniel E. Ortiz as finding “Freitag’s fabricated grounds for the stop, police report, and warrant made under oath fundamentally tampered with the judicial machinery and subverted the integrity of the court itself.” Freitag resigned last year and took a job with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Florida. He was fired by Brevard County in April of this year, the same month Judge Ortiz vacated Wilson’s guilty plea and ordered his release.

The Washington Post has an in-depth article explaining the complicated timeline of Wilson’s past few years. No word on whether Wilson will be getting his job back with DCFEMS.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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