NYPD Rookie Who Body-Slammed Biker Dodges Jail, Community Service
Posted: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 1:55 pm
A rookie cop in New York who was caught on tape shoving a bicyclist to the ground won’t serve any time for the assault, or for falsifying a criminal complaint about the incident.
Patrick Pogan, 24, had only been on the job with the NYPD for 11 days when he body-slammed a bicycle-rights activist named Christopher Long during a Critical Mass rally in Times Square. In a criminal complaint describing the July 2008 confrontation, Pogan wrote that Long had been weaving in and out of traffic, disrupting its normal flow by causing vehicles to swerve or stop. He also claimed that he suffered injuries to his arms from being impacted by Long and his bicycle.
Long was arrested on charges of attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He spent the next day in police custody. A video made by a bystander and then uploaded to YouTube, however, shows that the street had already been cleared of automotive traffic, that Pogan had in fact lunged toward Long and body-slammed him to the ground, despite Long’s attempts to steer clear of the officer. Witnesses also corroborated this, saying that Pogan had in fact been looking for a cyclist that he could take down.
Pogan defended his actions by saying that he was protecting the public from a reckless cyclist, but he was first placed on administrative duty and then suspended; Pogan later resigned before being fired.
In December, 2008, Pogan pleaded guilty in court to felony charges of falsifying business records and filing a false instrument, as well as misdemeanor charges of third-degree assault, second-degree harrassment and making a punishable false written statement. He went on trial in April 2010, and was acquitted on four of the seven counts, but found guilty of filing a criminal complaint that contained false statements.
Pogan could have received a sentence of four years in jail, but in a surprise move, the sentencing judge let him off without even community service—which was the minimum sentence the defense had requested. Prosecutors had asked for prison time plus probation for the former officer.
“The defendant doesn’t need any further supervision by the court and the verdict is conditional discharge, period,” said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley.
Long, who won a $65,000 settlement from the city, has said that he was pleased with the conviction, in part because it prevents Pogan from becoming a New York City police officer in the future. He could not be reached for comment on the sentencing, but a representative from the rally’s sponsoring organization, Time’s Up!, called it “an incredibly light sentence.”
Critical Mass is an advocacy event held in large cities, which attempts to obstruct automotive traffic in order to bring awareness to the rights of bicycle riders.