A former New York police officer accused of covering up after he shoved a Critical Mass protester from his bike – an incident that was caught on video and viewed by millions of people on YouTube – has walked free from court.
Earlier this year, Patrick Pogan was cleared of assault and harassment after he claimed he acted in self defence. However, he was convicted of falsifying police records.
On his return to New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan for sentencing yesterday, he faced up to four years in prison. But Justice Maxwell Wiley handed him a conditional discharge and released him without punishment.
According to Associated Press, Assistant District Attorney Ryan Connors requested jail time for Pogan but Judge Wiley said he found incarceration and further court supervision unwarranted. He also failed to give him the expected probation or community service.
"The defendant doesn't need any further supervision by the court and the verdict is conditional discharge, period," said Judge Wiley, according to the NYDailyNews.
It was reported by Associated Press that before being sentenced, Pogan told Judge Wiley: “My family raised me to help people, and that is what I'd like to continue to do, and put this nightmare behind me – it was a nightmare – and prove to you I am a highly productive member of society."
Speaking after Pogan was discharged, Bill DiPaola of the cycling advocacy group Times Up! told the NYDailyNews: "We think it's an incredibly light sentence." He added that he had hoped the incident would result in “a more friendly relationship in the future between the NYPD and the growing cycling community." The Long v. Pogan case is one of several incidents that point to a growing rift between police officers and New York City’s cycling activists.
Pogan, a rookie officer at the time, pushed cyclist Christopher Long during a Critical Mass group ride in Times Square on 25 July 2008. Initially, he claimed Long had attacked him and the cyclist was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
However, after Pogan filed false police reports regarding the incident, footage shot by a Florida tourist was posted on YouTube that showed his claims were made up. The video has now been viewed nearly three million times. Charges against Long were dropped and the city provided him with a $65,000 settlement. Pogan resigned from the NYPD.
When Pogan was found guilty of falsifying police records in April, District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr. said in a statement that his conviction for lying "reinforces that no one – even a member of law enforcement – is above the law, and that inexperience is not an excuse to violate the law intentionally".