A former New York City police officer has been convicted of lying about a clash with a bike-riding activist. But the ex-officer has been cleared of the more serious assault and harassment charges stemming from the Times Square Critical Mass confrontation that became a YouTube sensation.
In a case that underscored the tensions between the city's police and the pro-cycling demonstrators of Critical Mass and highlighted the growing prevalence of witness videos in trials, a Manhattan jury delivered the mixed verdict Thursday in the criminal case against the disgraced former NYPD officer Patrick Pogan.
Patrick Pogan showed no reaction as jurors delivered their verdict.
"He's lost the one profession he dreamed of, following in the footsteps of all his family," said his lawyer, Stuart London. "So he's paid a high price."
The former officer, 24, could face up to four years in prison at his June 23 sentencing, though prison time isn't mandatory. The son of a retired New York Police Department detective, Pogan resigned from the force last year.
Pogan initially reported that cyclist Christopher Long steered into him and knocked him down in July 2008. Charges were filed after a tourist's video of the incident was posted on YouTube, drawing more than 2 million views thus far.
Pogan testified last week that he was trying to protect himself during the encounter and never meant to misrepresent what happened. Long admitedly taunted the cop after he was knocked to the ground.
"What are you waiting for? Assault me!" Long said.
"I wanted this situation to go all the way,'' he testified at the former officer's trial.
Pogan's lawyer, Stuart London, portrayed 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 in the past.
Manhattan prosecutors had said Long's behavior doesn't excuse Pogan's conduct.
"This case is not about whether you like Christopher Long,'' Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Ryan Connors told jurors in his opening statement.
Pogan, 24, 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."