Ottawa Fire’s Dishwashing Altercation Case Goes To Trial

A criminal case is underway in Ottawa, Canada over a 2022 firehouse altercation precipitated by – of all things – an argument over washing-dishes. Firefighter Eric Einagel is accused of assaulting a rookie firefighter, Ash Weaver. In the same case, a fire captain, Greg Wright, is facing charges for criminal negligence and threatening Weaver in an effort to keep the matter from being reported.

The altercation began when Weaver, who is openly non-binary, was preparing to handle dishwashing responsibilities after dinner. Einagel, 38, asked if he could perform the chore instead. What started out as mutual pushing is alleged to have quickly escalated into Einagel choking Weaver.

Following the incident, Captain Wright approached Weaver to discuss what occurred. According to CBC News, Weaver testified in court as saying:

  • When I saw him [Captain Wright] I said I was hurt, I’m in pain, can I go to the hospital?
  • He said, ‘You’re breathing, you can move, you’re fine.’
  • He told me that the best thing for my career right now was to get on the trucks.
  • I had just been assaulted and I could feel all the pain from it and I didn’t feel fine.
  • [After the crew went on a detail, they returned to quarters. Captain Wright again approached Weaver.]
  • Capt. Wright came into the room, and I remember him shutting the door and telling me how I need to calm down and then shutting the lights out.
  • I told the captain that Eric wants to kill me for who I am, I told the captain how I was in pain, how I want to go to the hospital.
  • The captain was saying this is not going to be reported, this is going to stay in station. We don’t report on our brothers and sisters. We can work this out in the crew.

The incident led to Einagel being fired, and captain Wright being suspended without pay for three days. Wright remains with Ottawa Fire Services. The case is continuing in the Ontario Court of Justice. More on the story.

UPDATE: May 16, 2024: The harassment charge against Einagel and the negligence charge against Captain Wright have been dismissed. This follows the strong cross examination of Weaver by Einagel’s attorney who characterized Weaver’s account of what occurred as “fantastical.” The trial continues. More.

UPDATE: May 28, 2024: Einagel takes the stand.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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