Mixed Testimony Leaves Unanswered Questions Over Fire Station Assault 

By Charlie Senack

A non-binary Barrhaven firefighters account of an alleged assault in the Half Moon Bay station’s kitchen was “fantastical,” said a lawyer representing the accused.

The incident occurred at Station 47 on Greenbank Road near Cambrian Road on Sept 14, 2022.

According to statements from police investigators and the deputy fire chief, alleged victim Ash Weaver is said to have claimed colleague Eric Einagel threw dishes at their hands and slammed their body into the kitchen counter with the force of his body. Weaver also stated Einagel wrapped his hands around their neck and lodged them from the floor while making insensitive comments about their gender identity.

Weaver, who was in their first year of firefighting, said they could not breathe and could feel the sharpness of fingers digging into their neck.

“I’m going to die,” the rookie firefighter thought to themself, according to court proceedings. “There’s nothing I can do. I wasn’t strong enough. I’m just going to die.’”

After an internal investigation, Einagel was fired and charged with choking, assault causing bodily harm and harassment by threatening conduct.

In the Ottawa courthouse last week, Weaver testified that Greg Wright, the firehouse captain, advised against reporting the incident, fearing it would be blown out of proportion and jeopardize their colleague’s career.

Wright was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and threatening to discipline the complainant if they were to proceed. He was also suspended for three days without pay.

According to Weaver, the station’s captain did not offer encouraging remarks when he came to check on them.

“When I saw him I said I was hurt, I’m in pain, can I go to the hospital?” Weaver told the court according to CBC. “He said, ‘You’re breathing, you can move, you’re fine… I had just been assaulted and I could feel all the pain from it and I didn’t feel fine.”

Following the incident, the Barrhaven crew was deployed to a nearby neighborhood to knock on doors as part of a safety outreach program. Weaver was allegedly told to forget the incident ever happened. Too upset to participate, Weaver stayed in the truck until a family of four came for a tour. They then slipped out the back.

Once back at the station, Weaver said they sat in a supply closet to get away from the worry. That’s when Wright came in and said to keep it quiet. The captain allegedly said “we don’t report on our brothers and sisters,” according to the complainant.

“I remember him shutting the door and telling me how I needed to calm down and then shutting the lights out,” said an emotional Weaver. “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.”

To ensure the two disgruntled colleagues had some space, Wright agreed to move Weaver to the pump truck, but they never returned back to work. The complainant said they spent the rest of the day driving around the city and “wanted to die.” 

It was reported to the Ottawa Fire Services safety officer the next day and a report was filed with the Ottawa Police a week later.

Joshua Clarke, Wright’s lawyer, argued the fire chief bent over backwards when Weaver first joined the station. He said extra lockers were added to the female dorm and a desk was moved.

The lawyer for the fire chief also noted the new hire was “downright standoffish” to everyone in the station. Clarke also claimed it was Weaver — not Wright — who wanted to forget about the incident.

Mixed reviews

While Weaver said Einagel was not accepting of their gender identity, the former firefighter’s lawyer painted a different picture.

Co-counsel Dominic Lamb said Einagel wanted to have a better understanding of what it meant to be non-binary, and stated those conversations only happened a few times.

Lamb also shared a smiling selfie dated August 2022 of the two firefighters together and supportive text messages proving the pair had an admirable relationship. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the writings spoke of flight discount codes and changing shifts. In one text exchange, Einagel even invited Weaver to a FireFit practice, aimed at bettering emergency skills. “It would be great to have you out,” it read.

The co-counsel for Einagel argued this showed their client was accepting and saw Weaver as a “real human being.” The complainant replied: “I didn’t see it that way.”

When Weaver transferred to a new station, Einagel is said to have encouraged them to bring in an Oreo cake for the station, which they saw as an act of meanspiritness. Lamb argued it was just a joke.

Shenanigans in fire halls is typical, stated Lamb, who noted Weaver would also engage in playful pushing, shoving, body checking and tackling.

On at least one occasion, Lamb said the complainant tackled Einagel in the kitchen over dishes, a harmless tradition for junior firefighters. Weaver, who used to play Australian rules football for Team Canada, said they didn’t remember that particular moment but said “Eric was very physical.”  

Blown out of proportion

Megan Hills, a firefighter at the station who witnessed the altercation take place, told court it was “mutual” until Einagel placed a hand on Weaver’s neck for a second. Weaver for that matter said it was two hands and longer.

According to Hills, Einagel allegedly told his teammate three times to do the dishes themselves, but didn’t hear any other comments. She also didn’t see Weaver get slammed, shaken, or picked up off the ground.

Weaver said Hills told them to “run and hide,” after the incident, but Hills testified that was not true, confirming she did break up the fight. Lamb accused the complainant of “mischaracterizing” conversations, and argued they did with other discrepancies as well.

About 30 hours after the alleged assault, Weaver went to the Montfort Hospital to receive X-rays and other tests. They revealed no fractures, concussions, or hearing damage. They were told to stay home for five days and take some Advil. Still, Weaver has testified under oath the opposite.

But Weaver hasn’t returned to firefighting and remains off on medical leave. An application with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board stated they have injuries to the head, face, neck, ears, upper body, shoulders, hands, and feet, alongside “acute PTSD.”

“I’m not the same person. I can’t sleep alone at night. I had to move out of the city to not be so scared for my life. For a job I wanted so badly, I can’t even imagine going back to it now,” said Weaver, who added their child is now in the primary care of their ex-partner as a result.

Despite these apparent grievances, Weaver ran a 30-kilometer race in Hamilton that March and a 50-kilometer race two months later, according to lamb.

Weaver maintains they feared for their left and believed Einagel wanted to kill them. The trial is scheduled for two weeks.