A man who attempted to drown himself in a Virginia pool two years ago is suing the police officers and lifeguard who saved his life after he was left hospitalized and slapped with a massive medical bill.
Mateusz Fijalkowski filed a lawsuit against the eight Fairfax County police officers and lifeguard, saying they didn’t do enough and waited too long to help the now 23-year-old when he tried to drown himself on May 26, 2016. Fijalkowski was working as a pool attendant at the Riverside Apartments in Fairfax County and began acting strange the third day on the job, the Washington Post reported.
“They saved his life — he did not die,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. told the Washington Post. “You’re going to sue someone for saving your life?”
Before walking into the pool, the attendant was arguing with guests and ripped a girl’s wristband off. Officers brought a Polish-speaking cop and Fijalkowski’s roommate to calm the attendant down, to no avail.
In a video taken by a bystander that day, Fijalkowski was seen walking from the shallow to the deep end of the pool until he was completely submerged in the water. He then grabbed two vents at the bottom of the pool to hold himself down, leaving him under water for more than two-and-a-half minutes, the Washington Post reported.
The report stated that officers realized Fijalkowski was under the pool for an extended amount of time and dove in to bring him out of the water.
Fijalkowski received CPR until he was revived with an electronic defibrillator. He had vomited in the water and suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest, an EMS report stated.
The pool company said officers refused to let the lifeguard jump into the water until they saw Fijalkowski was not moving.
Fijalkowski was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after the incident. He was at Fairfax Inova’s Heart and Vascular Institute until June 8 and spent another six days in the psychiatric unit, the Washington Post reported.
Fijalkowski, who returned to his native Poland, said he had more than $100,000 in medical bills after the incident. Victor Glasberg, Fijalkowski’s attorney, said police could have stopped his client from going into the pool and rescued him sooner.
Roessler, however, said the officers acted appropriately that day.
“When someone’s having a mental episode, the last thing you want to do is go hands on,” Roessler said. “You use time on your side to let the episode subside.”