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Cyclist Gets in the Way of Cop Opening Van Door. Was “Criminality” Involved?

4:23 PM EDT on July 27, 2011

John del Signore at Gothamist brings us the tape of a cyclist who got doored by an NYPD van driver near Grand Central Terminal. The dooring victim, Stephen Mann, told Gothamist that after he got knocked off his bike, police mainly wanted to know if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

I was instantly surrounded by about 7 cops who all started asking me questions, like was I drunk, or on drugs, or how long have I been riding bikes, and all sorts of foolishness. At the same time the driver of the van was reprimanded by another police officer and told to get back in the van and "shut up". Prior to that he asked me why I was riding my bike in the street.

Meanwhile I was bleeding all over my leg and bike, and a random stranger came over and gave me Neosporin and some bandages, which is ten times more than any of the cops did. They filled out an accident report and asked if I wanted an ambulance. I hesitated and wasn't sure, when another police officer came over and told me "get checked" and so I said I wanted to get checked out. But the other cops quickly ushered the helpful police officer away from their group. It was like some sort of bad crime story cover-up; they huddled around me and seemingly tried to intimidate me. I really do think they asked if I was on drugs close to 10 times.

Police refused to give Mann their names or show him the accident report, he told Gothamist.

Why the fixation on whether the doored cyclist was on drugs? I think it has to do with the NYPD's rote response to any traffic crash.

Mann stayed at the scene, obviously, so there was no cause to bring a hit-and-run charge against him. Then it's on to question number two: Was Mann sober? If he was, then no criminality was involved. Mann could walk or bike away with his bleeding appendages, secure in the knowledge that the police won't charge him for getting in the way of an officer opening his door.

Unless the door got damaged. Then Mann might have to contend with a criminal mischief charge.

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