Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bailed Denied Again For Virginia Beach Police Officer

Bradley Colas
 PHOTO Hyunsoo Leo Kim/ Virginia Pilot
By Sarah Hutchins
Wednesday March 28, 2012
As a two-hour hearing in Circuit Court came to a close Wednesday, Virginia Beach police Officer Bradley Colas told firefighters he was sorry for what happened earlier this month, when he's accused of attacking rescue workers after a car crash.

Testifying in a white jail jumpsuit, Colas told the firefighters he would do what he could to make things right. His mother, who lives in upstate New York, has offered to move in with her son in Virginia Beach until the case ends. If granted bond, the officer also agreed to see a psychiatrist and give up his weapon.

However, for the second time this month, a judge denied Colas' bond request, citing the need to further understand whether his actions were signs of a psychotic disorder or, as the officer and his attorney argue, a terrible reaction to an antibiotic.

Virginia State Police initially charged Colas with two counts of malicious bodily injury to law enforcement or rescue workers after he crashed his car on the side of Lankford Highway the morning of March 4. He said he was on his way to find Jesus and protect his ex-girlfriend, who he believed was in danger.

During an earlier bond hearing, Colas said he had tried to kill the rescue workers because an antibiotic he was taking caused him to believe they were trying to hurt him.

A psychiatrist hired by his attorney testified at both hearings that the officer's behavior was likely the result of side effects of Biaxin, a brand name for clarithromycin. Colas had been taking the prescription medication to treat a respiratory infection and he said it caused him to hallucinate and suffer from insomnia.

Psychotic reactions to the antibiotic are rare, but documented in medical journals, testified Dr. Thomas Tsao, the psychiatrist retained by Colas' attorney, Moody E. "Sonny" Stallings Jr., to evaluate Colas. Tsao said he believed the officer's behavior was due to the medication. Colas said he is not on medication in jail, and Tsao said the officer has exhibited no further unusual behavior.

A neurologist who treated Colas at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital after the crash said Wednesday he couldn't make a diagnosis without following up after the officer's hospital discharge.
Colas could have experienced acute drug-induced psychosis, Dr. Robert Paschall said, or the first episode of a more serious psychotic disorder.

"I wanted this patient to go to a psychiatric facility," Paschall told the judge.

During the hearing, family members, a friend and an instructor from the Virginia Beach Police Academy testified to Colas' character and reputation. In a written statement, Colas' parents said they pray for the full recovery of the firefighters who were injured.

"We are confident that as... facts about clarithromy-cin-related manic episodes are brought to light, that Bradley will be fully exonerated...," they wrote.

Colas, who turned 24 Wednesday, testified for a second time to tell a judge what happened.

"To all the firefighters here," he said, turning to a row of men sitting in the back of the room, "I am so sorry you had to go through this nightmare."
"I hope that in time you'll be able to forgive me," Colas said.

In the back of the room, someone nodded.

"This is a most unfortunate situation," Judge W. Revell Lewis III said before delivering his decision. Colas came from a good family and was following his dreams to become a police officer, he said.

"On March 4 here in Accomack County, he snapped."

Like Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar, Lewis said he still had concerns about what caused the officer to act violently.

While medical journals acknowledge psychotic side effects to clarithromycin, Lewis said few patients go on to commit criminal acts.

The judge ruled the case will go Monday before a grand jury, which will decide whether Colas should face trial.

Colas remains employed by the Virginia Beach Police Department and will remain in the Accomack County Jail until the case is resolved.


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