A police officer who became famous worldwide after a YouTube video showed him shoving a cyclist off his bike seemingly without provocation has been acquitted of assault.
But Patrick Pogan, formerly of the New York Police Department, was found guilty of making a false filing in the case, and now faces up to four years in prison, the New York Times reported Thursday.
In amateur footage of a Critical Mass cycling event in New York City in July of 2008, Pogan can be seen crossing a street and walking into the path of 29-year-old cyclist Christopher Long. Long can be seen swerving to avoid Pogan before Pogan shoves him, causing Long to fall off his bicycle and into a nearby crowd.
Long “was initially charged with attempted assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but the charges were all dropped,” the Times reports.
According to the Times, Pogan testified in court that Long “initiatied the confrontation” because he refused to comply with an order to stop. That claim can’t be verified or dismissed on the basis of what can be seen on the videotape.
Pogan also testified he believed at the moment that Long was preparing to use the bicycle as a weapon against the officer.
Also helping Pogan’s case is that New York City has argued the Critical Mass event — which involves numerous cyclists parading through the streets on the last Friday of every month — is illegal. But cyclists and event organizers argue they have as much right as anyone to use the streets.
Following the 2008 incident, Pogan had initially claimed that Long was “forcing multiple vehicles to stop abruptly or change their direction to avoid hitting the defendant.” Pogan also alleged that Long knocked him to the ground after deliberately aiming the bicycle towards him.
Pogan evidently dropped those claims after video of the incident became widely available.
During cross-examination, lawyers for Pogan hammered Long with questions about his background. Long admitted to “frequent marijuana use” and “causing the death of a man in a traffic accident,” according to the Times. Long was never charged in that accident.
The following video was uploaded to YouTube on July 27, 2008.