NYC: police assault of Critical Mass cyclist probed

A glimmer of hope that this has, at least, sparked an outcry—thanks to a tourist with a video-camera, and YouTube. From the New York Times, July 29:

Officer Investigated in Toppling of Cyclist
A New York City police officer was stripped of his gun and badge on Monday after an amateur video surfaced on the Internet showing him pushing a bicyclist to the ground in Times Square during a group ride on Friday evening.

The cyclist, identified in court papers as Christopher Long, 29, was taking part in a monthly ride, called Critical Mass, that often draws hundreds of riders. In a criminal complaint against Mr. Long, the officer, identified in the court documents as Patrick Pogan of the Midtown South precinct, says that the cyclist rode straight into him. But the video, posted on YouTube and on the blog, shows the officer lunging toward Mr. Long.

The police said the officer had been assigned to desk duty pending a Police Department investigation. The police did not give the officer’s name or age or say how long he had been with the department.

The monthly rides have been a source of tension for the police since shortly before the Republican National Convention in 2004, when a large number of officers arrested more than 250 riders on charges that included parading without a permit.

In 2006, a state judge turned down a request by the city to forbid an environmental group that promotes the monthly rides from taking part in them, from gathering at Union Square Park beforehand and from mentioning the rides on its Web site.

According to members of the group, Time’s Up, the video was taken by a tourist standing on the sidewalk. It shows bicycles streaming down Seventh Avenue at 46th Street, past two uniformed officers standing in the middle of the avenue. After a few seconds, one of the two walks quickly toward the east side of the avenue and into the original path of Mr. Long’s bicycle. Mr. Long appears to try to steer clear of the officer, but the officer then shoves him. Mr. Long crashes onto the curb, and people gather around him and the officer.

Officer Pogan arrested Mr. Long on charges of attempted assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the court papers say. Mr. Long, who other cyclists said works in the Greenmarket in Union Square, was released without bail on Saturday.

In papers filed in Manhattan Criminal Court, Officer Pogan said Mr. Long was weaving in traffic, “forcing multiple vehicles to stop abruptly or change their direction” to avoid a collision. Officer Pogan also said he suffered cuts on his forearms as he fell to the ground.

Officer Pogan said Mr. Long had flailed his arms, kicked his legs and refused to put his hands behind his back. He also said Mr. Long had “twisted away” from him, “thereby making handcuffing difficult.”

He said Mr. Long told him: “You are pawns in the game. I’m going to have your job.”

The video clip ends soon after Mr. Long hit the ground. Witnesses challenged Officer Pogan’s account of the incident.

One cyclist, Craig Radhuber, 54, said he was a few feet behind Mr. Long, whom he said he did not know. He said Officer Pogan “body-slammed this kid off the bicycle so hard that he went from the lane to the curb.”

“I went over to yell at the police when another officer came and asked me to move back,” Mr. Radhuber said.

Mr. Radhuber said Mr. Long had not been weaving in traffic, as Officer Pogan alleged. “There was no traffic behind us — there was no traffic to weave in and out of,” Mr. Radhuber said. “The police officer looked to see who he was going to pick off.”

Bill DiPaola, a director of Time’s Up, said he arrived just after Mr. Long went down. “He got up and was dazed,” he said, referring to Mr. Long. Then, referring to Officer Pogan and the other officer in the video, he said, “They put their knees on top of his head and were smashing him into a phone booth.”

A lawyer for Mr. Long, Mark Taylor, said the cyclist had been “assaulted by the police.” He said Mr. Long, who was bruised but not hospitalized, was not available for interviews. “We believe the video speaks for itself,” he said, adding that he hoped the Manhattan district attorney’s office would drop the charges against Mr. Long.

Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who represented Time’s Up in 2006, said he had been asked by its leaders to look at the video. He said it “shows unacceptable illegal behavior by this particular police officer.”

“Unfortunately, it’s another example of how the N.Y.P.D. has targeted without justification the Critical Mass bike riders,” he said.

A sequel from NY1:

Video Surfaces Showing Second Officer Striking Suspect
A second city police officer has been put on modified duty, following the Tuesday release of a video showing the officer striking a suspect with his baton.

According to court documents, the incident occurred on July 4th at about 8:30 p.m.

An attorney for 46-year-old Michael Cephus claims his client was struck 10 times with a baton during an arrest. The attorney says police accused Cephus of trying to carry liquor into a park as he was trying to find a spot to view the fireworks.

In court papers, the arresting officer Maurice Harrington said Cephus was swinging an umbrella around as a weapon and that he resisted arrest.

The NYPD said Tuesday that the matter is under investigation.

The story follows on the heels of the release of another video, pictured above, in which a different officer is seen knocking a cyclist to the ground during a mass bike ride by the group Time’s Up last Friday. The video appeared on YouTube.

The police union is coming to the defense of that officer. President Pat Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said Officer Patrick Pogan “took action” when he observed the rider creating a “hazardous situation for the public.”

Lynch, who was unavailable for an on-camera interview, issued a statement saying the video shows the rider did not stop, like “any reasonable person” when approached by the officer.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday it looks to him like Pogan crossed the line.

“It looked to me to be totally over the top and inappropriate, but the police commissioner is going to or is in the process of doing an investigation. I don’t want to prejudice any investigation,” said Bloomberg.

As of Tuesday, Pogan has been stripped of his badge and gun – and has been reassigned pending a department investigation.

Meanwhile, the cyclist, Christopher Long, is facing charges of blocking traffic, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault.

Kind of mind-blowing that the PBA is backing up Officer Pogan given how clear the video is. It is blatant contempt for the truth. World War 4 Report says: Drop the charges against Christopher Long!

The police just never seem to figure out that the Critical Mass is not “blocking traffic.” It is traffic! There is nothing wrong with bicycles assuming enough of a “critical mass” to dominate the traffic flow, in the same way that cars usually do. In fact, there is much right with it. A little context for what the Critical Mass struggle is all about:

The federal Transportation Department’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System clocked 38,588 traffic fatalities in the US in 2006. The rigorous numbers-crunchers at the Cars Suck! website inform us that motorists kill an average 250 pedestrians and cyclists in New York City each year. That’s a 9-11 every month nationally, and every decade in New York City. The State Department’s “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report in 2006 found 14,602 were killed in terror attacks globally the previous year.

GWOT? How about a GWOC—Global War on Cars?

See our last post on NYC Critical Mass and the car culture.

  1. Bicyclist assaulted by Police
    I hope the bicyclist was not injured and is doing well.
    As we all know, a police officer’s job is to protect and to serve. I’m curious to hear the officer answer these questions: Does your job description include: ‘attack a citizen?’ Why did you assault the bicyclist and why did you use excessive force?
    The NYPD has jeopardized the public’s safety by not identifying emotionally unstable and immature officers; such officers should be kept in jobs like sweeping out the station.

    1. sub-standard cops
      These Police continue to show that they are a sub-standard thugs, that was such a cheap shot… how do these guys end up in such important jobs? No wonder nobody respects them