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Trial starts for cop in YouTube cyclist-tackling clip

Video of New York policeman slamming cyclist to the pavement in 2008 stirred outrage. Now the former officer faces four years in prison.

At the same time YouTube has helped law enforcement from all over the world nab criminals, the video-sharing site has also helped authorities weed out cops who use excessive force.

Perhaps one of the better-known cases involves Patrick Pogan, a former New York City police officer who was seen in a much-watched YouTube video body-slamming a bicyclist in 2008. Pogan is accused of assault and filing a false police report and his trial got underway on Monday, according to a story in The New York Times.

The 24-year-old Pogan, who has resigned from NYPD, faces up to four years in jail if convicted, the Times reported on Monday.

Pogan was part of a detachment sent to monitor Critical Mass, a mass bicycle rally that sees thousands ride bikes across cities around the world once a month. In the summer of 2008, Pogan was videotaped by a tourist as he apparently picked out cyclist Christopher Long at random. Pogan is seen on the videotape striding slowly towards Long.

Then, allegedly without warning and while tries to avoid a collision, Pogan knocks Long to the pavement. After Pogan arrested Long, he alleged in his report that Long was riding recklessly through traffic, failed to heed a warning to stop, and tried to steer his bike into Pogan. The clip was viewed more than 2 million times and Pogan's actions drew wide condemnation.

What may make Pogan's defense even trickier is that there was another video of the incident, taken from someone riding behind Long. The clip, which showed Long did little other than ride his bike and cheer, hasn't been widely viewed but was played in court, according to the Times. Long has settled a lawsuit he filed over the incident with the city of New York.

Pogan's attorney said his client is innocent of the charges. He was on the job for less than a month, the arrest was his first, and he was following orders to get the riders off their bikes.