Busted for Biking

03/02/2011 4:00 AM |

After reading in The L about recent cases of NYPD abuses of power while enforcing traffic laws for cyclists, Taylor Delhagen contacted us to share his unfortunately similar experience.

A few weeks ago, I met some friends for dinner while commuting home from the Crown Heights high school where I teach, and as I locked my bike outside Press 195 in Park Slope, I heard a driver yelling at me. He was in a typical limo-service car and I figured he was a cab driver. He was irate, yelling: “Yo asshole, listen the fuck up!”Not needing a cab, I figured he wasn’t speaking to me.

When I turned back around the man was walking quickly towards me yelling: “Motherfucker! You stop when I’m talking to you. You went through a red light!”I apologized, even though I didn’t recall going through any red lights. He asked, “Why the fuck are you biking?!” “It’s how I get to work,”I said. He kept asking similar questions and yelled at me to come over to his car. He still hadn’t identified himself as a police officer, but as I stepped away from my bike towards his car and he asked for my ID, I realized he was a cop. I told him my wallet was in my bike bag, but he told me not to “fucking move”and without warning grabbed and twisted my arm, cuffed me, and slammed my head and chest against his car. He called for back-up and before I knew it three more officers were on top of me. One stepped on my foot and told me to walk, while another pushed me forward so I would fall, which I did. My friends and people from nearby restaurants watched and filmed the incident despite the officers’ demands that they shut off their cameras.

I was taken to the local precinct on 6th Avenue and Flatbush, and while they checked me in, one officer thought I was looking at his badge and said, “You want to look at my fucking badge?! Spread your legs!”I complied, and as he “patted”me down (for the fourth time), he grabbed me between the legs and squeezed. Humiliated, I remained silent while the other officers laughed. I was put into a cell from 7-11:30pm, when the arresting officer came to fingerprint me. He grabbed my hand, sprayed Windex on it and slammed it against the machine, bruising my fingers. I calmly asked him not to touch me this way, but he pushed me back into the cell and told me he could keep me there as long as he liked, and that he was looking forward to the overtime pay. He returned two hours later telling me there was a two-year warrant out for my arrest. As a New York City teacher for the past five years, I doubted this, but it was enough to keep me until 4pm the following day. My wife and I retained Alain V. Massena as our attorney and that afternoon in court the judge pursuant to my attorney’s request immediately dismissed the “warrant.” However, I was still charged with resisting arrest and disorderly contact. The witness statements and the video clearly disprove these accusations, and my attorney has advised me that in seeking justice we will vigorously pursue an outright dismissal of these charges.

This situation is dis-empowering to say the least. Money is one thing, but taking me away from my students is another, and the officers’ behavior is scary to comprehend. I ask that all community members—cyclists, pedestrians and drivers—be alert for such abuses of power. No one deserves to be treated this way.

9 Comment

  • Unbelievable. I’d really like to add this situation to my archive of harassment on my blog. I’ve been documenting incidents since the NYPD crackdown was officially called out early January. http://www.bikeblognyc.com/nypd-crackdown-on-cyclists/ Could you just tell me the date and time this occured. Thanks Michael Green, mgreen@bikeblognyc.com

  • I strongly urge every cyclist who has the means, to attach at least one video camera to their bike, preferably multiple cameras. And keep them rolling when you’re riding because cops LIE. Contrary to what their mothers told them.

  • This is the 78th Precinct, which has a long history of harassing cyclists at Brooklyn Critical Mass events. This sounds, judging from the unmarked car, to be the work of Community Affairs Officer Jerry. You may call him at (718) 636-6410 to voice your concerns over the treatment of cyclists, and come out last Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the 78th Precinct station house (6th and Bergen, 4th Fl), for the Precinct Community Council a “non-partisan group which meets with police officials to exchange mutual views and seek ways to solve local problems.”

    For more info check out http://criticalmasspanic.blogspot.com/

  • The bikelash must stop. End the NYPD ticket blitz in Central Park. Sign the petition.


  • I think any video that was shot of this really needs to find it’s way to any and all local TV news organizations.

  • Of course as a fellow cyclist, this is really upsetting and infuriating to me. Another thing that really pisses me off about it is that this is the kind of a-hole police behavior that results in the City getting sued; sued to the tune of 10s, even 100s of million of dollars every year. Tax money out of my pocket and the pockets of every tax payer in NYC. There is absolutely NO place in today’s NYPD for idiots like this on some kind of power trip.

  • So sorry that happend to you. This reminds me of the treatment dissidents receive in certain dictatorships throughout the world. Usually it is a cadre of thugs loyal to the regime that abduct and brutalize political opponents of the regime in order to silence them and to protect their privelaged place in society. We have seen it in Argentina, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya among other places.

    In Egypt the military propped up the Mubarak regime for decades and in return they received many entitlements. The NYPD is no different. They receive better pay and conditions than people in the private sector and can do whatever they want on their turf (the streets of NYC).

    In your case those NYPD officers were acting as thugs on behalf of the ruling automobile regime. Sadly they see themselves at war with cyclists and they are acting to protect their turf and special privelages on that turf.

    They see cyclists as opponents encroaching on their territory. What they did to you was a warning shot to cyclists to shut up and go away. It is very important that you shared your story so more can know what is happening and hopefully we can one day ovethrow this corrupt automobile regime and its thugs.

  • I am a 5 foot 4, 120 lb girl. I had an officer three times my size jump me, slam my face into the concrete and yelled at me to “shut the fuck up” when I screamed from being caught off guard. I had 4 witnesses and a hospital record…and I still got nothing. I hope you pursue this to the fullest extent.

  • I think this video needs to not only make it to tv news stations but also to youtube so that everyone can be aware of this police harassment and to bring greater publicity to your case and the issue in general.