The trial began today for a former NYPD officer caught on tape slamming a cyclist to the curb in a seemingly unprovoked assault during a 2008 Critical Mass ride. In opening statements, Patrick Pogan's lawyer told the jury that Pogan wasn't the criminal here, but rather cyclist Christopher Long, who deserved to be arrested because he was probably stoned when he rode his bike through the center of the street.
Defense lawyer Stuart London argues that Long "orchestrated" the arrest so he could sue the city. Furthermore, Long "was actually discharged out of the Army, the evidence will show, for smoking marijuana," and had rolling papers on him when he was arrested. (Long was charged with assault, but not possession of rolling papers, perhaps because it's not a crime?) Long was also riding in the middle of the street with his hands off the handlebars, swerving toward Pogan, who had no choice but to follow orders and make an arrest. "It's a party to him," London said. "And he's going to ride his bike right through Officer Pogan."
According to London, Pogan just a "bright-eyed, new officer," with just 11 days on the job, "a naive, professional officer just trying to do his job." A job he was unprepared for! "He thought he was going to go to St. Patrick's Cathedral," said London. "He didn't know what Critical Mass was. He had no idea." London says Pogan was told to "stop" riders who broke the law, which is just what he did, and now he's on trial for assault and filing a false criminal complaint, which claimed that Long "drove" his bicycle "directly into [Pogan's] body, causing [Pogan] to fall to the ground and causing a laceration to his arm." The infamous video, below, tells quite a different story: