Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Last updated 11:20 p.m. PT
Man bites cop, cop sues man
Mercer Island police officer hoping to help suicidal man sues over bite wound
By LEVI PULKKINEN
On a September morning in a suicidal fit, a Mercer Island man tried to take a bite out of crimefighter.
The accused, 22-year-old Alexander Nazarov, has since admitted to delivering the injurious bite. A young man with no criminal record, he was sentenced to time served with a year in jail suspended.
Now, the Mercer Island police officer bitten during the Sept. 16, 2008, disturbance call has filed a lawsuit against the then-20-year-old and his family, asking that he be compensated for the bite.
In a suit filed earlier this month, attorneys for Mercer Island Officer Thomas Quinn claim Nazarov's parents should have known their son posed a threat to the officers who arrived at their home that morning. Nazarov himself, the attorneys claim, is responsible for Quinn's injuries.
"Often times the victims get forgotten, particularly when they're policeman," said Quinn's attorney Jeffrey M. Campiche of the Seattle law firm Campiche Blue & Le, PLLC.
"It's not part of the job," Campiche continued. "You can't injure a public servant and not have to repay that public servant for the consequences of that. And people need to know that."
According to statements filed as part of the criminal case, Quinn and two other Mercer Island patrol officers were called to the Nazarov home after the young man's mother reported he was suicidal and out of control.
Nazarov became more volatile when officers arrived, threatening Quinn and assuming a fighting stance when police asked him to calm down. When the officers tried to handcuff him, Nazarov managed to bite Quinn in the back of his right arm.
"Alexander (Nazarov) continued biting during the long struggle," a Mercer Island detective investigating the case told the court during the criminal prosecution. "Quinn, thinking he was going to loose flesh, struck Alexander three times with an open palm on his right cheek, each time harder, to get him to release.
"In all, it took three officers to control Alexander and get him to release his hold on Quinn's arm."
While Nazarov failed to take a piece of Quinn's arm, the injury to the officer's muscles and nerves was significant.
Two years later, a swollen "goose egg" remains on Quinn's right triceps muscle, Campiche said. Quinn returned to duty shortly after the incident, the attorney said, but has only regained about 90 percent use of the arm.
"He returned to work rather quickly. He's just a really tough guy," Campiche said.
"His only fear was that this would deny him the ability to be a policeman. … He's exactly the guy you want when there's a really big problem."
Nazarov was having such a problem the day police were called to his family's home.
In a statement to the court prior to his sentencing in the criminal case, Nazarov's defense attorney described him as a hard-working, law-abiding college student preparing to enter adult life. Unfortunately, the young man also was afflicted by severe depression.
As noted in police reports, Nazarov was experiencing a problem with his medication the day of the incident, his defense attorney told the court. He received a suspended sentence following assurances that he would follow a treatment regime.
Speaking Wednesday, Campiche said Nazarov's parents were aware their son was experiencing a severe breakdown when they called in the police. They failed to alert officers to that fact, he argued, and their negligence paved the way for Quinn's injuries.
Campiche, a former deputy prosecutor whose clients include a State Patrol trooper shot in the head earlier this year during a routine towing call, said suits like Quinn's are in part about accountability for offenders.
The argument offered by some that injuries are part of the job for police fails as an excuse, Campiche asserted.
"We shouldn't allow people to injure policemen in our community."
Quinn is requesting damages in excess of $50,000. The Nazarovs have not yet responded with the court.
Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.