By Jefferson Siegel
Nearly two years after a Critical Mass cyclist was knocked off his bike by a rookie policeman on the job for only 11 days, the trial of former Officer Patrick Pogan got underway this week in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Pogan, who was captured on video knocking cyclist Christopher Long off his bike in Times Square, is charged with assault and falsifying a police report after claiming Long deliberately rode into him. The video, posted days later on YouTube and since viewed more than 2 million times, showed Long trying to avoid Pogan as the officer took several strides toward Long before knocking him onto the sidewalk.
As the prosecution presented its opening arguments on Monday, the existence of a little-known second video came to light. The video, shot by cyclist Alan Fox, a civil engineer who was riding behind Long, showed the Critical Mass group ride proceeding down Seventh Ave. At 47th St., Long is seen in the video raising his arms and cheering just before Pogan intercepts him.
In an interview with The Villager in September 2008, Long was asked about reports that he was waving his arms.
“That was on Eighth Avenue,” Long said. “That was long before I was in any eyesight of Pogan.”
The new video provided substantial insight into the evening’s events. Though it misses the momentary impact, what happens after the collision is presented in surprising detail. The widely disseminated YouTube video ran only 30 seconds and stopped just after the collision. The new video shows Long, lying on the sidewalk momentarily stunned, getting up and trying to ride away. After a brief pursuit by Pogan and a second officer, Long is intercepted a half-block away, where he struggles as Pogan tries to handcuff him.
Long admitted telling Pogan, “What are you waiting for? Go ahead, assault me,” as they struggled.
On Tuesday Long was questioned by Pogan’s lawyer, Stuart London. London tried to call Long’s credibility into question by digging into his history, which included Long having accidentally killed a pedestrian while driving in North Carolina in November 2001.
When London asked Long about a speeding infraction just two weeks later, Long replied, “It’s no wonder I stopped driving cars.”
Under questioning, Long also admitted to frequent marijuana use.
Asked about the Times Square incident, Long ultimately said of Pogan, “I don’t believe that he intended to injure me.”
As Long spoke, Pogan shifted his attention between the witness chair and the jury box. The former police officer declined to comment as he left court, walking past a row of reporters and photographers.
Outside the courtroom Tuesday afternoon, attorney London called Long a “wild man.” Long declined comment. The trial will continue this week.
Long had sued New York City and the New York Police Department for $1.5 million. Late last year, he settled for $65,000. Long was originally charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration. The day after the incident, the Manhattan district attorney dropped the obstruction charge but added a charge of attempted assault. Soon after the YouTube video surfaced, all the charges were dismissed.