Updated 04/24/2010 11:38 AM
Policeman Who Allegedly Attacked Cycling Advocate Testifies
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Patrick Pogan, the former New York City police officer accused of body-checking a bicycling activist, took the stand Friday.
Telling his side of the story in State Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan for the first time, Pogan, seen above, told jurors he did what he was told to do back in 2008 at a pro-cycling demonstration in Times Square.
Pogan, who is is charged with assault and falsifying an arrest record, said cyclist Christopher Long was coming straight at him. The former rookie police officer told the jury he saw Long riding with his hands up in the middle lane with no helmet on.
The former policeman then said he saw Long hold up his middle finger and brace for impact. He said he believed Long was going to come at him, and after a split-second decision, tackled Long.
"I see him crouch down his shoulder as he's coming towards me. At that point I knew he was going to try to use that shoulder against me," said Pogan.
Pogan said he was warned the agitators would not want to stop, and he said a captain even cautioned, "Do what you have to do to stop them."
The incident took place after Pogan had been on the job for 11 days. He resigned after an amateur video of the collision was posted on YouTube, drawing millions of views and harsh criticism of NYPD tactics. Long sued the city for $1.5 million and settled for $65,000.
"This is the first time in 18 months he's had the opportunity to in a calm, collected fashion indicate what was going through his mind at the time," said Stuart London, Pogan's attorney. "You know, its interesting, a decision that takes maybe a second or two to make is examined over weeks, and days, and hours, and second-guessed and judged."
Before the video emerged, the former policeman initially said in the police report that he was hit by the cyclist. The defense said Friday that Pogan had been confused, and that he was actually knocked to the ground in a later encounter with Long during the arrest. The defense presented its own video from that night which it said supports their claim.
"If you heard his testimony and you saw the video, you saw he was knocked down, he did go down two separate times. He felt the brunt of the collision," said London. "In his own mind, he knew he had gone down he just unfortunately juxtaposed, he made a mistake."
"What we're hoping now is that the jury does not listen or remember the fanfare leading up to this case, but listens to the evidence, as it was calmly presented and the story that was told here....," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. "When you sat in that courtroom, it all made sense."
Pogan is due back in court for cross-examination on Monday.