Jimmy Justice‘s approach to justice is an intimate one: just a man and his camera, roaming the streets in search of cops parked illegally — and once he discovers them, confronting them. “I’m using a video camera as a weapon,” he says. “I believe a video […]

Jimmy Justice‘s approach to justice is an intimate one: just a man and his camera, roaming the streets in search of cops parked illegally — and once he discovers them, confronting them. “I’m using a video camera as a weapon,” he says. “I believe a video does not lie.”

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Keith B. Richburg interviewed the self-appointed vigilante while connecting him to other recent instances of citizen-documented police misconduct, such as this video of a Critical Mass bicyclist being assaulted by the NYPD

When I watched the Critical Mass clip more than once, it seemed fairly obvious that the officer in question wasn’t paying enough attention to the onslaught of bikes coming towards him, and reacted instinctively when he and the bicyclist nearly collided. I’ve been hit by bicyclists while on foot: it’s scary and it hurts. But many people disagree, including the NYPD — Officer Patrick Pogan has been stripped of his badge and put on desk duty pending a review of the incident. Meanwhile, Christopher Long, the assaulted bicyclist, was also charged with assault and resisting arrest. And according to Pogan’s statement, while resisting arrest Long made statements like, “You are pawns in the game, I’m gonna have your job.” The facts here, as always, are tangled and complicated, and a grainy YouTube video does not hold all the answers.

I’m very much in favor of citizen journalism, but it’s important to remember what it isn’t — specifically, a replacement for properly fact-checked journalism. By holding cops to the standards of the law, Jimmy Justice may be providing a valuable service to the community. But Jimmy is mistaken on one point: While a camera can indeed be a weapon, it can also lie.

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  1. Ernesto Guava Monday, August 4, 2008

    Do you not have enough money for the cataract surgery?

  2. I agree that the distinction noted at the end of this post is very, very important, and far too often overlooked. It’s easy to get an emotional reaction with this like this, but stripped of context and presented in an inflammatory way, they aren’t necessarily what they purport to be.

  3. LOL! Hahahahaha……

  4. Liz Shannon Miller Monday, August 4, 2008

    Ernesto, I definitely acknowledge what other people see in this footage — but I can only say what I saw originally. Pogan definitely takes a step forward — but it’s not a simple case of cop beating on helpless pedestrian.

  5. Mayb ethe camera lies, but the lies in Pogan’s reports are much more severe. Notice that lying in the report is what Pogan was charged with. Also Long may have been charged with assault of resisting arrest, but no word on if he was convicted.

    Pogan CLEARLY position’s himself to take Long down, making eye contact and striking out at the last moment. There was no signal no warning. Long obviously swerves away (contrary to Pogan’s statement). Would have been smart if he’d braked admittedly but where was all this traffic Long was supposed to have been swerving in and out of? It all looks like cycles at that point to me, and the video runs on after the knock down for several seconds there are no clearly visible cars following.

    Even if you CAN point out that there’s more to this story than the video shows, in his report Pogan is clearly lying through his teeth, THAT’S the important issue here. Had the event not been recorded it would have been Pogan’s word against Long’s and I assume that the court probably would have taken Pogan’s word above the defendant’s. The camera is what made the difference here.

    Anyway Ms Miller, have you ever been knocked down my a policeman? that hurts too and it’s REALLY scary!

  6. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you. You make a very valid point about fact-checked journalism, but fall into exactly the same trap. You rely on Pogan’s statement to villify the cyclist. Long has been arrested, but as far as I am aware, he hasn’t been charged, he most certainly has not been convicted (yet). There’s a big difference.

    With regards to the video, it is my opinion that Pogan steps forward to push Long, a step that was required otherwise he would not be close enough to hit him. They do not appear to nearly collide until the officer makes that final lunge.

    I do agree that videos can lie… but people can too.

  7. “and reacted instinctively when he and the bicyclist nearly collided”?? it seems to me the police officer had enough time to see and prepare his attack

  8. “Reacted instinctively?” When the officer hits the rider, he’s next to the bike, not in front of it. If he merely stood still, the bike would have passed him without incident.

    An instinctive response would have been to move AWAY from contact, not to initiate it.

    Moreover, you can see in the slo-mo replay that he speeds up to get to the cyclist (note his gait increases), he raises his arms and he lunges into the cyclist. None of that seems instinctual, and all of it seems at odds with his statement, which would have been accepted at face value without this video evidence.

    I’m not a fan of Critical Mass or their tactics. I have no idea if the cyclist in question did anything out of frame that would have warranted police intervention. But I am opposed to the use of excessive force and the kind of cop culture that encourages thugs with badges to falsify reports in order to cover up their actions.

  9. The cop wasn’t paying attention? Are you serious? This guy pauses, selects his target (Long), and then takes him down like he’s tackling a running back in a football game. That is clearly obvious in this video. The cop does not at any point act as if he was caught unaware by a rogue bicyclist.

  10. Wow, I am simply dumbfounded by your analysis of this video. That is OBVIOUSLY not an instinctive reaction. I don’t mean to insult you but either you are just trying to make up and write something just to make it different from the hundreds of articles regarding this topic, or you simply just see it from a completely different view than what I would deem logical. You even disparage the cyclist based on the cop’s testimony which is clearly FALSE and way off from what the video shows. So either the video was edited to block out the cop’s claim of being knocked down and having lacerations, or I am grossly mistaken to think this is a prime example of police abuse.

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