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Biking Public Project

NYPD Probing Cop Who Smashed Teen’s Bike

3:12 PM EDT on September 12, 2019

Police are now investigating after this cop was caught on camera smashing a teen’s bike. Video:

Cops are investigating one of their own after he smashed a teen’s bike in the South Bronx on Sunday — an incident that bike advocates say is just the latest example of police harassing cyclists in the name of public safety.

A day after Streetsblog published a video of the cop in question damaging the wheels of the bike with a blunt instrument, a police spokeswoman confirmed that the department is looking into the episode.

“The incident is under internal review,” said Sergeant Jessica McRorie.

The behavior of the cop in the video rang alarm bells for Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore cop who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Moskos noted that police do not have the right to destroy private property in the course of executing their duties.

“As always, I'd like to know the full story. What lead up to this? I think it matters, because obviously this was the end of something else," he said in an e-mail. "That said, try as I might, I can't conceive of a situation in which a cop is justified in this situation to damage the rear wheel of a bike. It would be like a cop slashing the tire of a car at a car stop. The cop can arrest the guy for whatever crime he may have committed, but you can't destroy his bike!”

The 17-year-old biker, who asked to be identified only as Devon, told Streetsblog that he and five of his friends were riding their bikes in a parking lot near the Bronx Terminal Market last Sunday at about 3 p.m. when a cop told them to leave the lot because it’s private property.

Devon said he and the others complied and then were dawdling outside when the unidentified cop ran toward them and began hitting Devon's bike with the baton-like instrument, likely in an effort to stop him from pedaling off.

The incident is not the first in which an officer either damaged or confiscated a bike — often costing the owner his or her livelihood. Since Mayor de Blasio kicked off his fear-mongering crackdown against e-bikes in 2017, cops have seized hundreds of bicycles from delivery workers, forcing them to pay several-hundred-dollar fines for the bikes' release. Many workers have had to cough up even more cash in order to repair cycles that were damaged at the hands of police.

“This is part of NYPD system of cruelty to [people of color] in name of public 'safety' of #VisionZero," tweeted Do Lee of the Biking Public Project. "Likewise immigrant delivery workers often say after paying $500 fine, they retrieved confiscated #ebike but find it damaged badly under NYPD *care* needing $$$ repairs.”

And in April, cops also seized youths' bikes because they didn't have bells on them, forcing the kids to pay a fine to get them back.

Devon told Streetsblog that repairs to his bike cost him $80. He added that he and his mom are working on a formal complaint and have plans to sue the city.

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