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Queens cop faces civil rights suit

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Oleg Zhitnikov, a JP Morgan employee who works in Manhattan, filed the suit in federal court in Brooklyn in June seeking unspecified damages for an alleged attack by John Girdusky which he claims violated his civil rights and left him hospitalized in last summer.The suit said Girdusky was driving his vehicle on Woodhaven Boulevard near the Belt Parkway when the confrontation occurred on Aug. 29, 2003.The suit names Girdusky, who antagonized his Broad Channel neighbors earlier this summer with plans to build a deck on his waterfront home, and Police Officers John Doe and Jane Doe, whose identities are not known, according to the complaint.Zhitnikov's lawyer, Jonathan Damashek filed a notice of claim in September 2003 informing the city it would be sued. Because Girdusky is a NYPD detective he is acting on behalf of the city, the suit claims.Damashek would not comment on details of the incident or the injuries his client sustained."All we know is Mr. Girdusky was behind my client and for one reason or another lost his temper," Damashek said in an interview. "He just flew into this road rage and started beating up my client for no reason." Girdusky could not be reached for comment. The civil rights suit lists numerous offenses Girdusky and the unidentified officers are accused of committing during the confrontation, which is not described in the suit.It says Zhitnikov "was unlawfully seized, assaulted and battered" by Girdusky and the other unnamed police officers while he was lawfully driving his vehicle."The resulting injuries to the plaintiff were caused solely by the reason of carelessness, negligence, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, excessive use of brutal force, wrongful assault, battery and malicious prosecution on the part of Police Officer John. A. Girdusky," according to the suit.These actions, the suit claims, were "in violation of the plaintiff's civil and Constitutional rights."The New York Post reported Girdusky told the newspaper that Zhitnikov was the aggressor in the incident, but Damashek said in an interview that claim baffled him."There's a real question as to how my client could assault him from inside his own vehicle," he told the TimesLedger. "It's a little far-fetched."Last month Girdusky upset his Broad Channel neighbors when he attempted to build an addition to his house, which they contended had been obtained through "city favors" because of his job with the NYPD and Morgenthau. Girdusky vehemently denied the claims.A spokeswoman for the DA's office confirmed this week that Girdusky was still Morgenthau's driver but had said earlier that Morgenthau had no role in Girdusky obtaining any permits.Girdusky's work on the house had been halted by a city Department of Buildings audit. Earlier this month, Girdusky submitted altered plans that called for the addition of another story to his house rather than an addition to his deck, which neighbors said would block their view of the Jamaica Bay and drive down the value of their houses.Neighbors like Mike Clarity, who expressed discontent with Girdusky's original plans, said they would accept Girdusky's new construction plans.So while Girdusky's neighborly battles have ended, his battle with Zhitnikov appears to have just begun.Damashek said he and his client will to wait to see what happens with the case."At the end of the day I think we expect to prove this is a classic case of road rage," Damashek said. "The reason why this is such an issue is here you have someone who is supposed to protect the people of New York City and he can't control his temper. You have to ask yourself do you want someone who exhibits these traits to be on the force and carry a weapon?"Reach editorial intern Mallory Simon at news@timesledger.com.

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