A You Tube vid of a young Lower East Side cyclist — some have theorized he’s a bike messenger — delivering a brutal beatdown to a pedestrian outside the public restrooms on Allen and Delancey made the rounds on web sites and blogs last week: The vid shows the two travelers coming into conflict after one either careened or bumped into the other at a busy intersection.
Seconds later, the older and taller pedestrian gets up in the cyclist’s face. The cyclist tries to amble away but the guy follows. Because of the camera angle and the fact the two turn a corner and are momentarily out of view, what happens next is unclear. Maybe the pedestrian grabbed the cyclists. Maybe the cyclist just got fed up with being talked at. But milliseconds later, when the camera picks the two up again,things have gotten out of control…
…so out of control the cyclist starts bludgeoning the pedestrian in the head with a U-lock so hard, the mic picks up the hammering thud.
Since the vid has been up, commenters on various sites have been debating whether the cyclist, if caught, should go to jail. Some think that since the biker was obviously being menaced by the other dude, it was self defense, while others believe there’s no excuse for the cyclist’s over-the-top reaction.
We figured we’d solicit an expert opinion on it. Lawyer Adam White is an avid cyclists known for defending the rights of bike messengers in NYC. What is the pro-two-wheeler litigator’s reaction to the video of the enraged cyclists? “Horrible,” he says via email. And what’s his legal opinion? “It did not appear from the video that the bicyclist was ever in fear of his personal safety and could have easily and quickly retreated without physical harm to anyone involved regardless of the fact that the guy may have been badgering him. Use of the U-Lock as a weapon was plainly inappropriate, uncivilized and a criminal act. The bike messenger can have no reasonable excuse judging from the video for his actions and should be criminally prosecuted…”
Of course, the chances of that happening are almost nil as NYPD says there was no police report filed on the incident.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 27, 2009