Cops Stopped Lifeguards From Saving Drowning Man: Lawsuit

The man was trying to drown himself during a bipolar episode, he says
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2018 4:51 PM CDT
A man is suing police in Virginia over claims they let him drown.   (Robinhood Esq via YouTube)

(Newser) – A man who says he tried to commit suicide by drowning himself during a bipolar episode is suing police in Virginia over claims they stood by as the life drained out of him. The suit filed by Polish national Mateusz Fijalkowski in Virginia alleges that Fairfax County police actually held lifeguards back from saving him until he was clinically dead, the Washington Post reports. Fijalkowski was working at the pool in Fairfax two years ago while in the US on a summer program. Though he spoke little English and could not swim, he was reportedly made an assistant manager of the facility. Per the AP, Fijalkowski says he's suing because the 2016 incident left him with more than $100,000 in medical bills. He says he had never suffered any mental health episodes before the incident; he was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

According to WTOP, the suit names 11 police officers as well as the lifeguard supervisor and the company that runs the pool. Fijalkowski's attorney posted a video taken during the incident that shows the moments before he entered the pool as well as the aftermath during which rescuers use CPR after Fijalkowski says he was clinically dead. He was left underwater for more than two minutes, the lawsuit claims. He spent the next two weeks hospitalized before a subsequent six-day stint in a psychiatric unit. For their part, the Fairfax County Police say officers acted to protect their own safety and the safety of lifeguards. They say they acted quickly enough to save Fijalkowski's life. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler has said he fully supports his officers' actions and has called the lawsuit "frivolous."

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