When he was made assistant supervisor of a pool in Fairfax, Virginia, two years in the past, Mateusz Fijalkowski spoke barely any English and didn’t know the best way to swim.
In america from Poland on a summer time program, Fijalkowski spent most of his time right here hospitalized after almost drowning in that pool. Now Fijalkowski, 23, is suing the law enforcement officials and lifeguard who pulled him out.
Usually police are sued for being too aggressive with mentally ailing individuals; on this occasion, they’re accused of not doing sufficient to cease a person within the midst of a bipolar episode.
When the lifeguard did pull him out, in response to his lawsuit, Fijalkowski had stopped respiratory and had no pulse.
“The police allowed me to sink earlier than their eyes,” Fijalkowski mentioned in an electronic mail, in Polish. “I am glad that ultimately they realized that they should not let me drown, however I do not thank them for letting me die, clinically, earlier than their eyes.”
He’s suing as a result of he has greater than $100,000 in medical payments from the episode, he mentioned.
Police are incredulous.
“They saved his life – he didn’t die,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler mentioned in an interview. “You are going to sue somebody for saving your life?”
Roessler mentioned that had officers or the lifeguard gone in earlier, they may have gotten dragged beneath the water themselves.
Fijalkowski got here to the U.S. from Poland by means of a global summer time job program, in response to his grievance. He mentioned he was advised he might work at a pool regardless of not figuring out the best way to swim. On the time, he had by no means had any psychological well being episodes.
He started working as a pool attendant on the Riverside Flats in Fairfax County on Might 26, 2016, in response to his go well with, three days after his arrival. He was skilled to wash the pool, organize the deck chairs and verify the water’s pH stage.
On his third day of labor, he started appearing surprisingly. He began arguing with company and speaking to himself in Polish. After he ripped off one lady’s wristband and mentioned she couldn’t enter the pool, a lifeguard known as the police.
When the police arrived, Fijalkowski ignored them and stored blowing his pool whistle, in response to the courtroom filings. The police cleared patrons from the pool space. They introduced a Polish-speaking officer and Fijalkowski’s Polish-speaking roommate, each of whom Fijalkowski ignored. As a substitute, in response to police reviews, he stored shouting, “I’m the lifeguard” and praying in Polish.
Twice, Fijalkowski threw his cellphone within the shallow finish of the pool and retrieved it. He climbed the lifeguard tower, shouted and blew his whistle.
Then he entered the pool a 3rd time. In a video taken by a bystander by means of the pool’s fence, Fijalkowski will be seen strolling slowly into the deep finish till he’s fully submerged beneath the eight-foot-deep water. In line with an account given by one officer and supplied by the plaintiff, he then grabbed two vents on the underside of the pool and held himself down.
Within the video, Fijalkowski is seen under the water for greater than two-and-a-half minutes as officers stroll across the pool and watch. Then Sean Brooks, Fijalkowski’s supervisor and a lifeguard, jumps in and begins to drag him out.
A number of law enforcement officials comply with Brooks into the water and are seen on video serving to drag Fijalkowski from the pool. They carry out CPR for a number of minutes till emergency medical technicians arrive and revive Fijalkowski with an digital defibrillator.
In line with an account from the pool firm included in courtroom paperwork, the police wouldn’t let Brooks bounce in till Fijalkowski had stopped shifting. Of their reviews, a number of officers mentioned they moved to enter the pool as quickly as they realized that Fijalkowski had gone nonetheless.
Fijalkowski had vomited within the pool, in response to an EMS report supplied by the plaintiff, and suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest.
Officers advised medical workers that Fijalkowski had been underwater for 30 to 60 seconds, in response to a hospital report obtained by the plaintiff.
Fijalkowski was in Fairfax Inova’s Coronary heart and Vascular Institute till June eight, in response to his lawyer, after which in a psychiatric unit for six days, the place he was identified with bipolar dysfunction.
He mentioned in his electronic mail that he’s now again in Poland, on remedy, and has not had an episode since.
Roessler defended his officers’ actions, saying they had been proper to keep away from a bodily altercation with a person who had been appearing violently and erratically.
“When somebody’s having a psychological episode, the very last thing you wish to do is go arms on,” Roessler mentioned. “You employ time in your aspect to let the episode subside.”
Victor Glasberg, Fijalkowski’s lawyer, argues that quite the opposite, police are skilled to take individuals in misery into custody. They may have stopped him from going into the pool the third time, he mentioned within the go well with. As soon as he did go in and stayed underwater so lengthy, they need to have rescued him or allowed the lifeguard to take action, he added.