2010-04-30 - Officer is Cleared in Cyclist's Shoving- WSJ

Officer is Cleared in Cyclist's Shoving

Wall Street Journal

April 30th, 2010

By Sean Gardiner & Chad Bray

A New York City police officer who was filmed shoving a cyclist at a Times Square rally was acquitted Thursday on assault charges but convicted of filing a false report.


Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney's office alleged that Patrick Pogan shoved bicyclist Christopher Long to the ground during a July 2008 Critical Mass rally, a monthly political-action bicycle ride. He was accused of lying on an arrest report to justify charging Mr. Long with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Those charges were later dismissed.

Mr. Pogan's attorney, Stuart London, said his client, a police officer for 10 days when the incident happened, was forced by his sergeant and an assistant district attorney to sign the report.

"They had him sign it and he's the scapegoat, he's the one left out to dry," Mr. London said.

Critical Mass, where bicyclists assert their right to safely travel the streets, has long clashed with police, who say the rides threaten public safety.

The convictions—filing a false report is a felony, making false statements is a misdemeanor--mean Mr. Pogan faces between no time in jail and four years when sentenced on June 23.

[cyclist0428] Associated Press

An image of the 2008 incident taken from the video posted on YouTube shows Patrick Pogan, right, and Christopher Long.


Metropolis: As Jury Deliberates, a Review of the Bike-Shove Case

Opponents decried the verdict, reached after three days of deliberations, and say Mr. Porgan remains able to watched on YouTube. As of the 3 p.m. verdict, the video of the incident had been viewed 2.3 million times.

"I'm dumbfounded," said Barbara Ross, whose organization Times Up promotes the Critical Mass rides. "That video was viewed by more than two million people and everyone who's seen it knows that he's guilty of assault."

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association union, said the ruling will have a "chilling effect on every young officer" who will be afraid going forward to do their jobs because they'll fear "mistakes will become crimes."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, said that the conviction sends the message that, "no one--even a member of law enforcement--is above the law, and that inexperience is not an excuse to violate the law intentionally."

One past Critical Mass regular, Christopher Broduer, yelled outside the courthouse as Mr. London spoke to the media.

"I think the charge should have been attempted murder," Broduer said.