Charges Said to Be Voided for Bicyclist
The New York Times
September 5, 2008
By JOHN ELIGON
Prosecutors are expected to drop criminal charges on Friday against a bicyclist who was pushed off his bike in July by a police officer in Times Square, said Mark M. Taylor, a lawyer for the bicyclist. The encounter was captured on amateur video.
The bicyclist, Christopher Long, 29, was charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct on July 25 during a monthly ride called Critical Mass. The arresting officer, Patrick Pogan, wrote in his report that Mr. Long had been weaving in and out of traffic and that he had tried to hit the officer with his bicycle.
But video recorded by an onlooker soon surfaced on YouTube, showing Officer Pogan lowering his shoulder and shoving Mr. Long off his bike on Seventh Avenue at 46th Street as Mr. Long tried to steer out of the way.
On Thursday, prosecutors declined to comment on their case against Mr. Long and would neither confirm nor deny that they planned to drop the charges.
After the video surfaced, Officer Pogan was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty, pending a department investigation. Mr. Taylor said his client planned to sue the city.
Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who has represented several Critical Mass participants, said that dropping the charges against Mr. Long would be the right thing to do, and that he hoped the prosecutors would go one step further.
“I think they should give serious consideration to bringing perjury and assault charges against the cop,” Mr. Siegel said. “This is the way to get accountability over the police and reduce police misconduct. If you make this officer an example, then the message is: This kind of conduct is unacceptable and there will be legal consequences for it.”
Tensions have long existed between Critical Mass riders and the police, who complain that the riders ignore traffic laws.
Shortly before the Republican National Convention in 2004, 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 Time’s Up, an environmental group that promotes the monthly rides, to take part in them, to gather at Union Square Park beforehand and to mention the rides on its Web site.