A bicyclist was sent flying onto the road after cops pulled up beside him. Moments later, he was in handcuffs and then charged with “resisting arrest.” Now, he’s suing.
Heins Rodriguez, 26, was riding his bicycle without a helmet in August 2015. He had his earbuds in and said he didn’t hear the officers following behind. Then, all of a sudden, an unmarked cop car pulled up “unreasonably close to Mr. Rodriguez,” his lawyers said. As a result, the man was thrown from his bike, hitting the ground hard.
The entire incident was caught on camera.
As officers got out of the vehicle and handcuffed Rodriguez, cops alleged he swung his body widely, refusing to be restrained. But footage showed a different scene, as Rodriguez stood still while the officers cuffed him and then got him to sit down on the sidewalk.
Cops eventually only charged the man with “resisting arrest," even though they said they found 12 bags of marijuana in Rodriguez’s backpack.
Daniel Flanzig is a New York attorney who represented a woman who was also thrown from her bike by a New York Police Department officer after she ran a red light. He said cops are not handling cyclists correctly.
“What prohibits [the officers] from pulling 25 feet ahead of [Rodriguez], pulling over, and signaling for him to stop?” he asked.
Officers don’t run drivers off the road unless they're in danger, Flanzig added. Why do they feel entitled to run riders off the road?
In 2016, Rodriguez filed a lawsuit claiming that the charge was brought against him as a cover-up of an excessive force case. He also claimed he suffered a permanent back injury after the fall, and that he now feels emotionally scarred and often feels “fidgety” when he sees officers.
In the suit, lawyers argued that the security camera footage proved the charges weren’t grounded in facts. But cops disagreed, saying the video was “inconclusive,” and adding that allegations of a cover-up were nothing but speculative.
One of the cyclist’s attorneys, Gabriel Harvis, said that this case is important because it showcases how often police use “dangerous pursuit tactics.” And what’s worse, he added, is that officers “willingly lied in an effort to cover them up."
"When officers can manufacture evidence as we see here, no one is safe," Harvis added.
Whether the officers involved in this case are found guilty of trying to cover up their wrongdoing or not, Harvis makes an important point. After all, this isn’t the first time a police officer in the United States has been accused of manufacturing evidence. And as history shows, this wouldn’t be the first time that it was proven an officer did, in fact, cover up their own crimes.