September 3rd, 2009
09:24 PM ET
9 years ago

Man says he lost part of finger in fight at health-care rally

(CNN) - A man says part of one finger was bitten off in a confrontation that developed at a health-care rally Wednesday night in southern California.

William Rice, 65, told CNN in a telephone interview he was in Thousand Oaks, California, standing on a sidewalk across the street from a rally sponsored by the group MoveOn.Org, which supports health-care reform. Rice said an unidentified man came "running at me" yelling, "You're an idiot. You're an idiot."

A spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office told CNN Rice was a counter-demonstrator and that he and another man got into a fistfight.

Rice would not divulge to CNN his views on the proposed health-care reforms.

Rice, who would not say why he was at the location, said he did not do anything to prompt the incident and did not know the other man.

Rice said he hit the other man on the nose when he came at him. "Had I not hit him he would have hit me," Rice said, adding that his left hand ended up in the other man's mouth during the incident, and the top part of his left pinky finger was bitten off.

Authorities were looking for the other man Thursday. They said they had heard various accounts of what happened and wanted to get his side of events.

A spokeswoman for Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks said Rice arrived at the hospital with the severed part of his finger wrapped in ice. Spokeswoman Kris Carraway-Bowman said hospital personnel told Rice they could re-attach the severed part and what that process would involve, and that he elected not to have it re-attached.

She said Rice departed the hospital leaving behind the severed portion of the finger, and the hospital disposed of it.

A statement from the MoveOn.Org organization Thursday said, "While we don't know if either party involved was a MoveOn member, we regret any violence that may have occurred yesterday, and we support the Ventura County Sheriff's investigation into the situation. It is our firm hope that this event does not detract from the tens of thousands who were out peacefully making their voices heard for health care reform and a public option."

Filed under: Extra • Health care • Popular Posts
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Greg

    Sure he did nothing to provoke him. I've heard other accounts.

    September 3, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  2. Independent in Missouri

    Sounds like he's looking for a pay-off, doesn't it?

    I'd really like to know which side of the debate he supports... just imagine - if he's on the side of the GOP, will he be getting one of those evil trial lawyers to help him sue someone?

    Wouldn't that be hypocrisy in its most glorious irony?

    September 3, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  3. DaveV

    Th real question is how long did Mr. Rice have to wait to be seen in the ER, how much is his bill and was it covered by his insurance, if he has any...

    September 3, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  4. OCScrnwriter

    What did this guy expect, everyone to stay at home and search icougardating dot com. Health care arguments will intensify as Congress goes back in session. This just the beginning.

    September 3, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  5. Elizabeth

    Why this kind of childish behavior occurred is a mystery to me. I also cannot understand how anyone could oppose reform of health care. The current system is bankrupting our country, many individuals, and families. We have the most expensive health care system in the world, yet many of our citizens are not covered by insurance and cannot afford even basic preventive care. Germany, France, and many other first-world countries have found workable solutions to achieving universal health care, but we are either too proud or too stubborn to learn from their successful experiences to develop a workable system of our own.

    September 3, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  6. Johnny

    What is this country coming to? Are we really making this much of a fuss just to keep our health care as is?

    September 3, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  7. Glen in Los Angeles

    Who can honestly say they've never bitten off the tip of a man's pinky finger in the heat of an argument? I know I have!

    September 3, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  8. Kick the bums out

    Which side of the street did the incident take place? Was the finger biter dragged over or does it sound like he went to the other side for a reason? Libs may spin it how they wish, but it sounds to me like move has bitten off more than they can chew.

    September 3, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  9. Joe in Hoboken, NJ

    Wouldn't surprise me in the least! Those MoveOn types are really the unhinged radicals in society. I wouldn't allow my children near them!

    September 3, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  10. WeThePeopleofVA

    Heck . . . I've been giving the people the finger for months now. I wonder why I didn't make the news?

    September 3, 2009 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  11. ShiWms n Phx AZ

    Hmmm...He declined the procedure. He should have used his excellent medical insurance or maybe just maybe he doesnt have health insurance or maybe he couldnt afford to pay high deductible or 5k out of pocket to have the know with his excellent health insurance that needs no REFORM..sounds like he was standing on the wrong side of the street...

    September 4, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  12. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Why are protests sponsored by MoveOn called rallies, but when opponents protest it's called a mob? It sounds like the MoveOn side instigated the violence.

    September 4, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  13. Hope

    The governmen run Medicare should deny his claim, he can go get the insurance companies to pay for it.

    September 4, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  14. nathan smith ga

    if he had stayed at home or either gone to a demostration for his cause instead of trying to disrupt the peaceful americans who are for reform this would not have happend. i guess his insurance would not cover his finger being reattached. i bet he now supports reform.

    September 4, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  15. Dan

    Jesus is the ONLY way.

    September 4, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  16. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    It sounds like the biter is still on his acid trip from the 60"s.

    September 4, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  17. Alfred E. Neumann

    His plea of being an innocent bystander fails the test of fist being in close proximity to the biters mouth.

    Absent a full blown video of the episode we can assume that blame for the juvenile behavior is to be shared equally.

    Let's us hope that the remnants of the finger were laid to rest with full honors – all the attendees wearing an orange shirt.

    September 4, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  18. Catherine

    So Ol' Bill says, “Had I not hit him he would have hit me." Oh right, that’s what bullies always say after throwing the first punch. Ol' Bill clearly started the violence; now he cries foul when somehow "wink, wink", his finger ended up in the mouth of the man he decided to beat up on and the guy bite his fingertip off–the other guy acted in self-defense.

    Ol' Bill thinks we, Joe and Jane Public, are a bunch of morons who can’t read between the lines. A jury of his peers won't be convicting the biter, so Ol" Bill better come up with a better story than this stinker.

    September 4, 2009 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  19. Jim

    Well, I hope he's got health insurance.

    September 4, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  20. Jessica

    I hope he has good insurance.....

    September 4, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  21. U Got 2 B Kidding

    And for some reason you expect people to believe this story....Not for one second...News today more belongs in the tabloids make up alien story column....Next you will have a Republican supporter abducted by Healthcare reformers and abducted, brainwashed and converted to agree to healthcare reform. Give me a Break.

    September 4, 2009 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  22. he did not do anything to prompt the incident

    how about just showing up at this meeting?

    September 4, 2009 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Typical democrat. If you can't win an argument with someone, just bite them. I hope he had his shots.

    September 4, 2009 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  24. Meka

    Was Rice, pointing his finger at the Man?

    September 4, 2009 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  25. flamin lib

    Hope he has health care. I am sure it cost a few thousand to get it back sewed on. And of course the insurance company will do their best to fight paying for it.

    I want health care. I want the insurance companies, lobbyist and finger biters to all go away! You are selfish and ignorant and could care less about anything – just yourselves and you money.

    September 4, 2009 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
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