Collision between NYPD vehicle and Citi Bike in the East Village sparks controversy

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A New York City police officer insisted a bicyclist was riding recklessly when the Citi Bike collided with a police vehicle, but there are conflicting accounts of the incident.

"Yes he hit me and the bike with that vehicle," said witness Garvey Rich.

It is an incident sure to fuel an already simmering debate between vehicles and bicycles in New York City, and the use of police force.

A witness captured images of NYPD officers boxing in a cyclist with their SUV.

The Citi Bike was lodged above the police vehicle's rear wheel. The back of the bicycle bent from the collision.

"So I am going to use whatever means necessary to stop you, OK? And that's for your safety," an officer is heard saying.

The officer can be heard saying the cyclist blew several red lights and ignored numerous attempts to pull him over, including by loudspeaker.

"When I was going to stop you I stepped in front of your path," said the officer. "I activated my body worn cameras and I put out my hand for you to stop. You acknowledged me, but continued to keep going. I yelled out, 'Stop,' and you looked back at me and continued to keep going."

"Officer, you have a bullet-proof armored door. Do you understand how heavy that is?", the rider said.

It happened Friday night in the East Village by Tompkins Square Park on Avenue A. Garvey Rich shot the video.
He did not see the beginning of the incident.

"They were definitely forcing a physical stop," said Rich. "There was no doubt about it. If you were a bike rider and a car came into you nose first."

The video doesn't show how the Citi Bike and police vehicle collided.

Witnesses and the cyclist claim the officer ran him off the road. Police have a different version.

"So, is it okay for a cyclist to run a red light?," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said Monday. "Continuously to run through red lights, endangering pedestrians, endangering themselves? Is it? I'm asking you?"

Police officials say the officers cut in front of the cyclist, who then dismounted and that's when the bike crashed into the police vehicle.

Sources say there is body worn camera footage that clearly shows the cyclist was off his bike with it collided with the vehicle.

"There has to be respect for when a law enforcement officer says you're doing something illegal, you need to stop," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. "If the individual ignores that, it's a different dynamic."

The cyclist received several summonses for running red lights, operating a bike with headphones, and failing to comply with a lawful order by police.

"They cut him off. He only had a few feet to stop," said Rich.

The incident is under review.

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