Rookie cop in hot water after video shows him slamming biker
July 29th 2008
By Tamer El-Ghobashy
A rookie NYPD cop was stripped of his badge and gun Monday after a stunning video caught him slamming a bicyclist to the ground in an apparent unprovoked attack.
Officer Patrick Pogan, 22, of the Midtown South Precinct, was bounced to desk duty soon after the video of Friday’s incident in Times Square appeared on YouTube.
“The video is bad – what can you say?” a police source said. The damning video not only revealed an out-of-the-blue attack but also seems to show Pogan lied about the incident in court papers.
Pogan was one of two cops at Seventh Ave. and 46th St. monitoring a Critical Mass bike rally when a swarm of cyclists rode by ringing their bells about 9:35 p.m. Without warning, Pogan, a former high school football offensive lineman, appears to single out one cyclist, jog toward the sidewalk and then slam his shoulder into the biker.
The impact sent Christopher Long, 29, crashing to the pavement in front of shocked onlookers.
“All of a sudden the cop picked this kid out and bodychecked him,” said cyclist Craig Radhuber, 54, who was riding about 3 feet to the right of Long. “I couldn’t believe what was going on.”
When Long tried to get up, Pogan and his partner tackled him to the ground and tried to handcuff him, witnesses said. Long “was startled and shaken, and the officers were being really violent,” said witness Bill DiPaola, director of Time’s Up! an environmental group that supports Critical Mass.
Long, of Bloomfield, N.J., was arrested and charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He declined to comment yesterday. His lawyer David Rankin said “the video speaks for itself” and said he may sue.
In court documents, Pogan said he saw Long weaving in and out of lanes and obstructing traffic before he ordered the cyclist to stop. The cop claimed Long deliberately drove his bike into him, sending both of them falling to the ground. Pogan claimed to have suffered cuts from the impact.
The video clearly shows Long trying to dodge Pogan, who appears to have remained upright the entire time.
Long, a grocer at the Union Square Green Market, has been described as an Army veteran and mild-mannered environmental activist. “He is a very well-meaning guy,” said his boss, Morse Pitts, 56.
A law enforcement source said the charges against Long would likely “go away” and another source predicted Pogan would be fired.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said the incident is being investigated.
Pogan’s father, a retired NYPD detective who worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, defended his son’s actions last night. “You gotta do what you gotta do to make an arrest,” said Patrick Pogan Sr., 51, who retired in 2002.
He said his son is the third generation of NYPD in the family. “I’m proud of my son. He’s a good kid.”
Critical Mass and Time’s Up! – which advocate for environmental issues with the monthly protest ride – have long complained about NYPD harassment. Police officials said the groups disrupt traffic and lack permits.
“Cyclists here already face enough obstacles – law enforcement shouldn’t be one of them,” said City Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn), a supporter of biker rights.