Activist now saying he taunted NYC cop
The man who was pushed by a New York officer allegedly said, "Assault me!"
NEW YORK — As he faced arrest, the cycling activist had something to say to a police officer who had shoved him off his bike: "What are you waiting for? Assault me!"
"I wanted this situation to go all the way," cyclist Christopher Long testified Tuesday at the former officer's trial.
The ex-officer, Patrick Pogan, is accused of knocking him off the bike during a pro-cycling demonstration and lying about what had happened. The charges were filed after a tourist's video of the July 2008 incident was posted on YouTube, drawing more than 2 million views so far.
Pogan has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Stuart London, portrays Long as a provocateur who engineered and cashed in on a confrontation with a rookie officer. Long sued the city and reached a $65,000 settlement.
"He clearly promoted (the encounter) toward getting the officer in trouble," London said outside court.
Long said Tuesday that he leaned toward Pogan as the officer strode into his path — to blunt a collision Long said he couldn't avoid — darted away from Pogan and another officer afterward, and writhed and taunted them as they tried to handcuff him.
In testimony that sometimes elicited chuckles from the courtroom audience and Long himself, he also acknowledged other brushes with the law and a marijuana-smoking habit he said had spurred his discharge from the Army in 2001.
Manhattan prosecutors say Long's behavior doesn't excuse Pogan's conduct. After abruptly body-checking Long, Pogan covered his tracks by falsely reporting that Long had steered into him, prosecutors say.
"This case is not about whether you like Christopher Long," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Ryan Connors told jurors in an opening statement Monday.
London says a supervisor wrote Pogan's report for him, and his encounter with Long was just an effort to carry out instructions to stop cyclists if he spotted traffic violations during the demonstration, known as Critical Mass. It's a monthly event in which cyclists, sometimes hundreds, ride together.
On July 25, 2008, Long was reveling at reaching a stretch of open road in Times Square — fellow Critical Mass riders were blocking traffic — when he noticed Pogan and another officer standing in the street. Long said he tried to steer around Pogan, but the officer closed in on him, and they collided. Long landed on a sidewalk grate; he wasn't seriously hurt.
"Did you think you were going to go right through me? Would you like to try that again?" Pogan said, according to Long.
Long was charged with resisting arrest and other offenses. The charges were later dropped.
Pogan, 24, faces up to four years in prison if convicted. He resigned from the New York Police Department last year.
Long was also arrested again in December on charges of smashing a side-view mirror on a stranger's car. He pleaded guilty to a violation and was sentenced to a day of community service, according to his testimony. He told jurors he clobbered the mirror while drunk on scotch and frustrated about issues related to his lawsuit settlement.
When asked, Long agreed he would described himself as "anti-government" and considered the police department "beyond reform."
Lanky and voluble, Long obliged as Pogan's lawyer delved into his marijuana use, his spotty driving record and his personal life.
"I'm not shy, and I like talking, and I'm enjoying myself," said Long, who has worked as a gardener and farmer's market staffer but is now unemployed. "But I think it's kind of boring."