A man who was reportedly suffering from a bipolar episode when he tried to drown himself two years ago is suing the police officers and lifeguard who saved him, alleging that they took too long to do so.
The Washington Post reported that Mateusz Fijalkowski, 24, didn’t know how to swim when he was made pool attendant of the Riverside Apartments in Fairfax, Virginia, in May 2016. At the time, Fijalkowski was in the U.S. from Poland for an international summer job program, according to his complaint.
It was Fijalkowski’s third day at work when he reportedly suffered a bipolar episode for the first time. He was arguing with guests and talking to himself in Polish. At one point, he ripped off a girl’s wristband and said she couldn’t go to the pool, prompting a lifeguard to call police.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in a Virginia court Friday, alleged that eight officers watched as Fijalkowski walked into eight-foot deep water, where he remained for more than two minutes. At one point, officers stopped lifeguard Sean Brooks from jumping in to save him, he said.
“The police allowed me to sink before their eyes,” Fijalkowski told The Post in an email, in Polish. “I’m glad that in the end they realized that they shouldn’t let me drown, but I don’t thank them for letting me die, clinically, before their eyes.”
However, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said that the lifeguard was initially prevented from going into the pool as Fijalkowski could’ve pulled him underwater with him.
“They saved his life—he did not die,” Roessler commented. “You’re going to sue someone for saving your life?”
Before a bystander began recording, Fijalkowski reportedly threw his cellphone into the shallow end of the pool twice and retrieved it both times. Police reportedly called in a Polish-speaking officer and his roommate, who also speaks Polish, but Fijalkowski ignored both of them.
Fijalkowski can be seen walking into the deep end and immediately sinking to the bottom. Minutes after Fijalkowski becomes submerged, Sean Brooks is spotted jumping into the pool to rescue him. From there, police perform CPR on Fijalkowski until EMTs arrive and can use an electronic defibrillator.
“There’s no way to Monday-morning-quarterback this stuff,” Roessler said. “Everybody there saved this young man’s life.”
Victor Glasberg, Fijalkowski’s attorney, said that Brooks was included in the lawsuit for following police’s instructions. Fijalkowski said he’s suing because he’s accrued $100,000 in medical bills from the May 2016 ordeal.
Fijalkowski went on to tell The Post that he’s back in Poland, on medication, and hasn’t had an episode since.
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