A Florida anesthesiologist is facing felony battery charges after he allegedly banged his head repeatedly against the inside of a patrol car until he bled and and then spat blood into a sergeant's face when he was pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Dr. Zachary Bird, 41, was driving along the Central Florida Greeneway early Sunday morning when he nearly hit a state trooper's vehicle and the trooper had to swerve into the other lane.
Bird was pulled over and failed a field sobriety test, after which he was handcuffed and arrested for driving under the influence, according to FHP spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes. The officers found $40,000 in cash in his pocket, she said, and Capt. John Lynch and trooper Mark Casselbury put Bird in the back of the patrol car.
That was when Bird, who had already been verbally resistant to arrest, became extremely agitated and enraged, Montes said. The video from the back of the patrol vehicle shows Bird's face covered in blood as he continuously bangs his head against the plexiglass partition in the back of the car.
Montes said he repeatedly yelled that the troopers were stealing his money, and began kicking the partition. But because they hadn't found any drugs or weapons on Bird, "his money was in his pocket the whole time," Montes said.
The troopers eventually pulled Bird out of the back of the car because they worried he might seriously injure himself, and that's when he spat an entire mouthful of blood in the face of Sgt. Chuck Porter, Montes said.
"We've had people fight us, punch us, even spit on us," she said. "We expect that from some people we arrest, but a doctor knows how serious it is to contaminate someone with bodily fluid. That's the most unnerving part."
Bird was handcuffed to a gurney and taken to the hospital, where he kicked a light fixture, damaging it, and was threatening and combative to staff there.
He was booked on charges of driving under the influence, criminal mischief, and felony battery of a law enforcement officer, but was later released on bond. The patrol car required $300 worth of cleaning by a hazardous materials team.
Other charges against Bird are still pending, however, because troopers searched his car and found an additional $14,000 in cash--along with a vial of an unidentifiable liquid and a bottle of the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, but the pills inside the bottle were also unidentifiable. The drugs have been sent to a laboratory for testing and the results will be determinined within a few weeks.
Porter, the sergeant who was on the receiving end of Bird's blood, has secured a warrant to obtain a blood sample from Bird and will be able to find out whether Bird was afflicted with any communicable diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis, Montes said.
Bird attempted to claim his money on Thursday, according to Montes, but it's still being held in evidence in connection with the pending investigation of the drugs found in his car. She said they do not know why Bird was carrying so much cash.
Bird does not have a prior criminal record, but his employer, TeamHealth, which contracts him to area hospitals as an anesthesiologist, told The Sun-Sentinel newspaper that his contract had been suspended and that he "was no longer welcome there."