FAIRFAX, VA (CBS Local) – A Virginia pool worker, who tried to drown himself during a bipolar episode, is now suing the police officers and lifeguard who saved him because they allegedly took too long to do it.
- Mateusz Fijalkowski is suing police for taking too long to save his life
- Fijalkowski tried to drown himself in May 2016 during a bipolar episode
- Fairfax police say they acted properly and call the lawsuit “frivolous”
- Fijalkowski wants the officers who saved him to pay all his medical bills
Lawyers for Mateusz Fijalkowski filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on April 27, claiming that first responders violated the drowning man’s constitutional rights by not doing more to prevent Fijalkowski from harming himself.
“It’s a frivolous lawsuit — we saved a young man’s life,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler told WTOP. “He was trying to commit suicide by drowning himself.”
In May of 2016, Fijalkowski was hired to work as an assistant pool manager at the Riverside Apartments. Fijalkowski – who reportedly did not know how to swim when he was hired – was seen having an apparent mental breakdown on May 26, 2016. The disturbed man allegedly started arguing with guests and threw his cellphone into the water.
“I am the lifeguard. Get out. I am the lifeguard,” Fijalkowski reportedly yelled at police who were called to evacuate the pool and settle him down. Once the area was clear, guests recorded the 23-year-old jumping into the pool and submerging himself in the deep end. When Fijalkowski turned purple and started drowning, first responders rescued the man and successfully performed CPR.
A YouTube video was posted by Fijalkowski’s lawyers in an attempt to claim that emergency workers should have gone in sooner to save their client. “The police allowed me to sink before their eyes,” the 23-year-old told The Washington Post. “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.”
Chief Roessler is completely backing up his officers in the case, saying that police are trained to exercise a plan of “time and distance” when confronting mentally unstable people. “When it became apparent he had drowned himself we executed the plan, and it’s clear from the video that we saved his life,” Roessler added.
Fijalkowski was hospitalized following the 2016 incident and officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He is now trying to stick the men who saved his life with over $100,000 in medical bills from the suicide attempt.