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Finger bitten off during health protest

September 3, 2009 8:44:00 AM PDT
The debate over health care reform has been intense and at times controversial. A rally in Thousand Oaks Wednesday night turned violent when a man's finger was bitten off.The violent confrontation happened at the corner of Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks.

William James Rice, 65, was part of a group demonstrating against health care reform.

Rice walked over to a nearby rally that was in favor of health care reform and confronted a supporter.

Soon after, Rice admitted to punching the man, who in turn, allegedly bit off a part of Rice's pinky finger. The top joint of his pinky, including his whole fingernail, was severed.

Rice spoke with Fox News Channel on Thursday afternoon about the details.

"He came at me, calling me an idiot, and whenever he came close within my range, I threw a punch," said Rice. "I threw a second punch and my fist ended up in his mouth. He bit my pinky finger off. I can't look into the man's heart or into his mind. My finger was in his mouth and when it came out I didn't have a finger, that's all I know. I don't wish to sue anybody, I'm not a litigious person, but the authorities are looking for him."

The biter fled before authorities arrived. He could face felony mayhem charges.

"I would even hesitate to name this other person as a suspect because this was at one point a mutual fight, and we don't know who the primary aggressor is," said Det. Eric Bushow of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. "We're not saying, 'Hey this guy's a suspect,' he's the other party. We want to get his side."

Rice was able to recover his pinky finger, but doctors were not able to reattach the finger because of concerns over a bacterial infection from of a human bite.

Detectives want to hear from the man who did the biting.

If you have any information, you're asked to call detectives at (805) 494-8201.

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