By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN — A former New York City police officer has been found guilty of lying on official court documents about shoving a Critical Mass bicyclist to the ground in Times Square two years ago.
A Manhattan jury, however, acquitted Patrick Pogan of assaulting the cyclist, despite two videos in evidence that show the young officer using force to knock the cyclist to the pavement.
Of the seven indictment counts, he was found not guilty of five charges and guilty of one felony and one misdemeanor.
The felony does not carry a mandatory imprisonment but Pogan, 24, faces up to four years behind bars for the conviction at his sentencing.
The one-time rookie was 11 days into his career on the street when a flood of bike riders came into Times Square on July 25, 2008 for a scheduled group demonstration.
Pogan's lawyer said he was ordered to stop out-of-control Critical Mass riders and that Long ignored Pogan's instructions to pull over on Seventh Avenue.
After being knocked to the ground, an outraged Long was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conducted and attempted assault, based on Pogan's account that Long pushed him down when they first came in contact.
The videos, one of which went viral on Youtube within days of the incident, show Pogan was not be knocked over and was the first to initiate contact.
The new officer authorized the false version of Long's criminal complaint, alleging Long knocked the officer to the ground and caused him injuries.
At trial, Pogan said he had been mistaken, that the false account was information he thought to be "accurate at that time."
"Once he put his signature on that it became more problematic, even though the assistant district attorney put words in his mouth," said Pogan's attorney Stuart London.
Jurors found Pogan guilty of offering a false instrument for filing, a class "E" felony, for authorizing the false complaint.
The charges against Long, who said he knew the arrest process well by the time he was handcuffed that night, were dropped by prosecutors when the videos surfaced.
London called Long a "professional agitator" who recognized an opportunity for a profitable lawsuit as soon as Pogan put his hands on him.
During his testimony, Long described his long history of recklessness and his anti-authority beliefs.
As a car driver, he was routinely summoned with speeding tickets and even killed an elderly man while while recklessly driving in North Carolina, he admitted.
When he was awarded a $65,000 civil settlement from the city over the Pogan incident, Long claimed he was overwhelmed by his small fortune.
It was his excuse for getting intoxicated and kicking off the side-door mirror of a parked car in Brooklyn in which a frightened woman was sitting.
"Long knew exactly what he was doing," London told jurors. "Long is a con man ladies and gentleman."
"He's an agitator who took advantage of the situation, took advantage of being in Critical Mass, and made Patrick Pogan the scapegoat," he continued.
Prosecutors argued the videos showing the violent shove were that mattered in the case.
"This conviction 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," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said in a statement.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch, who was present for much of the trial, called the verdict a loss for the city's police officers and will have "a chilling effect on every new young police officer who proudly takes the street."
Pogan, he said, was victimized by "professional anarchists" who routinely "take over our streets."
"And we're there to go out and allow the people to walk freely in our city," he added.