A man who reportedly tried to drown himself in a Virginia pool two years ago is suing those who rescued him for failing to intervene sooner.
Mateusz Fijalkowski, 23, filed a lawsuit Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging that eight police officers sat and watched as he nearly drowned underwater for more than two minutes and kept a lifeguard from diving in to save him, the Washington Post reported.
Fijalkowski said he is suing because he accrued more than $100,000 in medical bills from the episode, where he suffered respiratory and cardiac arrest.
Although hospital staff later diagnosed him with bipolar disorder, Fijalkowski said he had never suffered from mental health problems before the incident.
“The police allowed me to sink before their eyes,” Fijalkowski told the Post in an email translated from 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.”
Fijalkowski, who is from Poland, had been in the United States for the summer to work as a pool attendant for Riverside Apartments in Fairfax.
On his third day of work, he began exhibiting strange behavior, arguing with pool guests and talking to himself in Polish. A lifeguard called the police when he took away a girl’s wristband and denied her entry into the pool.
When the police arrived, Fijalkowski ignored their commands and walked into the deep end before submerging himself in eight feet of water.
The Fairfax County Police Department said in a statement that officers took appropriate action to save his life while protecting themselves and the lifeguard from a disturbed person.
“When someone’s having a mental episode, the last thing you want to do is go hands on,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler said. “You use time on your side to let the episode subside.”