We’ve been waiting two years to see how the justice system would deal with the rookie cop who not only crossed the street to slam a bike-riding activist to the Times Square pavement — but then cooked up a phony story in his memo book to justify the caught-on-video assault. The answer came yesterday from a Supreme Court Judge, one Maxwell T. Wiley. It was this: Never mind.
Wiley ruled that, despite a jury’s finding that police officer Patrick Pogan had lied about the incident back in July, 2008, no jail time was merited, even though the D.A. was asking for four years. Wiley even surprised the defense with his generosity, refusing to order Pogan, 24, to do any community service. Pogan’s veteran police union attorney, Stuart London, had already recommended some form of community service as a prison alternative. Not necessary, ruled the judge.
Pogan, who had just ten days on the job when the incident occurred and quit the force after he was charged, claimed that the reason he grabbed biker Christopher Long was because higher ups had ordered him to “do what you have to do” to stop a Critical Mass biking rally.
That argument helped him beat assault charges, but the jury nailed him for filing a false report on the incident. That verdict was amazing enough, given the video of the incident which went viral in the city: it shows Pogan picking Long out of dozens of bikers streaming past him and smashing him down. The cop later claimed the biker had flipped him the bird. But the verdict prompted even the stalwart pro-police Daily News editorial board to issue a once-in-a-lifetime scolding in a case where a cop accused of brutality had gotten off too lightly.
“The New Yorkers who acquitted former NYPD officer Patrick Pogan of assault yesterday were a jury of his peers, by which we mean idiots,” the News edit shop wrote. Pogan, they added, “was guilty as YouTubed.” They went on to urge Judge Wiley to “slam Pogan on sentencing.”
No such luck. Wiley, a former prosecutor, was appointed to the bench by Governor Pataki in 2004. He was reappointed by David Paterson last year. The last time the judge made news he was allowing a vicious rapist to “further torture his victim” — as the Post put it — when he allowed defendant John Hamlett to cross-examine a Lower East Side psychology student he was accused of sodomizing at knifepoint about the detail of his attack.
“I’m sorry, I don’t believe I can go through with this,” the witness pleaded with Wiley. The judge urged her to “do your best.”
A few weeks later, the judge made it up to her by hitting Hamlett with 154 years in prison. But then, he wasn’t a cop.