March 30, 2014
Morgy Driver Hit With $1m Road-rage Suit(Lower Hudson Journal)
By Jonathan Damashek
Posted inGo to the main In The News page
By Ernie Garcia
An NYPD detective who chauffeurs Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is embroiled in a $1 million lawsuit accusing him of a road-rage incident that left a Manhattan man hospitalized and unfairly charged with assault, The Post has learned.
Detective John Girdusky was off duty when he ordered Oleg Zhitnikov to pull over his Cadillac Escalade in Queens at 4 p.m. on Aug. 29 of last year.
Girdusky alleges that Zhitnikov, a project manager at JP Morgan, was weaving through traffic and nearly hit a pedestrian when he stopped him and was then attacked.
But according to witnesses who called 911 and later made sworn statements to Zhitnikov’s lawyers, Girdusky was the aggressor in an unprovoked attack.
“What the f— are you doing? Get out of the car,” Girdusky yelled at Zhitnikov, one witness reported, according to the lawsuit.
Girdusky, 41, a 15-year NYPD veteran, then tried to grab Zhitnikov’s keys from the ignition before pummeling him in the head and neck through the driver’s side window.
Zhitnikov was charged with reckless driving and assault, but Queens prosecutors dropped the charges late last year, according to law-enforcement sources.
“My client assaulted a cop from inside of his car?” asked Zhitnikov’s lawyer, Jonathan Damashek. “It doesn’t make sense. It’s a complete fairy tale they’re living.”
Zhitnikov filed a civil-rights suit in Brooklyn federal court seeking $1 million from Girdusky and the city for false arrest, police brutality and other violations.
Girdusky, who lives in Queens, declined comment. A spokeswoman for the DA did confirm that he remains Morgenthau’s driver.