Virginia Beach police officer sues drug company over psychotic outburst

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-13 10:05:49-04

A Virginia Beach police officer who was jailed for three months after stabbing two Accomack County firefighters and shooting at a third says there should have been warning labels on an antibiotic that briefly turned him psychotic.

A lawyer for Officer Bradley Colas recently filed a federal lawsuit seeking more than $75,000 from Abbvie, Inc. and Abbot Laboratories. The suit contents the drug maker knew that, in some cases, its popular antibiotic Biaxin has triggered psychotic episodes. But the lawyer says there were no warnings on the prescription.

In March, 2012, Colas started taking Biaxin for bronchitis. The lawsuit says after a few doses, Colas began to believe he was a prophet with special religious powers. The suit says his doctor and pharmacist told him to keep taking the pills because they'd never heard of any problems with the drug.

Eventually, Colas convinced himself he had to meet Jesus in Philadelphia and rescue a former girlfriend. He also believed the number four had some evil significance.

The lawsuit says Colas thought if he had enough faith, he could drive to Philadelphia with his eyes shut and he nearly ran off the road several times. In Accomack County, he crashed and called 911. The lawsuit says the responding firefighters' helmets "had the number four on them and that their fire engine was Engine Forty-Four." Colas thought they were demons. He stabbed two and shot at a third "with the bullet striking the man’s pant leg."

The firefighters fought back. One gashed Colas' head with a fire helmet, and the other cut his arm with a clipboard. The firefighters retreated. Colas then "hopped on the side of the fire truck and asked for a ride to Philadelphia. (He) fell off the truck as it pulled away and the truck nearly ran over (him)," the lawsuit says.

When police arrived, a trooper mistook the badge in Colas' hand as a gun. They arrested Colas as the rookie officer "congratulated the police on a "great felony stop." The suit says Colas talked so much about Jesus and his mission the police told him to "shut up."

Once off the drug in the Accomack County jail, Colas got better. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges and Colas returned to his Virginia Beach police job. Through a police spokesman, Colas declined to talk about the lawsuit.

The drug company has not responded.