NEWARK (CN) – A former public school custodian claims a co-worker bit his off his ear. Edward Byrd says his assailant, William G. Mercer, had “been disciplined in the past for exhibiting assaultive and untoward behavior in the workplace” and Eastside High School did not “adequately investigate” Mercer or his supervisor.
Byrd claims in Essex County Court that while working at Eastside High School he got into an argument with Mercer because Mercer was patrolling an area he was not assigned to. Byrd says Mercer became angry and threatened to “cut him with his knife.” He says that as Mercer reached into his pocket to pull out his knife, another employee intervened, saying, “Come on now, fellas, don’t do this.”
Later that day, Byrd says he was sent to the boy’s bathroom to shut off a water valve, and he encountered Mercer again. Byrd claims Mercer grabbed him, pushed him against a wall, and “pressed his chest against [his] face so that he could no longer breathe.” Byrd says he struck Mercer to escape his grasp and tried to leave the room, at which point Mercer bit his ear off and spit it on the floor.
Byrd said he asked Mercer what was wrong with him, and Mercer replied “I am an animal.”
With “blood gushing out of the side of [his] head where his ear had been located,” Byrd “went downstairs to put his ear on ice,” according to the complaint. He says an ambulance took him to a hospital, where he spent 18 days and underwent several surgeries to have the ear reattached. He “anticipates that more surgeries will be necessary.”
Byrd sued the Newark school district, Mercer and Mercer’s supervisor. He is represented by Daryl Pennington.