By Anna Quinn
June 25, 2019
A cop who was indicted for lying about a suspect trying to hit him with a car will have all of his previous cases reviewed too, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office announced this week.
Officer Michael Bergman, who worked with the NYPD's Grand Larceny Division, was indicted last week after he falsely told a grand jury that a burglary suspect tried to run over him and his partner on a Sunset Park block in February. Investigators watching the surveillance video figured out that Bergman had lied, and that the suspect and his car were nowhere near hitting the two officers, prosecutors said.
The district attorney and the NYPD have now said that they are also looking into all of Bergman's previous cases because of his perjury charges.
"Following last week's indictment, our Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau has already started a review of this officer's past cases in collaboration with the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau," a representative with the DA's office said.
The investigation follows calls from local advocacy group Legal Aid, who said that Bergman was an arresting officer on 55 Legal Aid cases since 2012. They also found that this isn't Bergman's first run-in with the law — he was sued in 2015 for breaking into someone's home.
The city settled that lawsuit for $175,000, the group said.
"This misconduct is unconscionable, and it is not the first time that NYPD Officer Bergman has been accused of flouting the law and disregarding New Yorkers' Constitutional rights," said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. "Officer Bergman's actions led to the wrongful arrest of an innocent New Yorker, and we fear that this incident isn't an outlier, and accordingly, are calling on the Kings County District Attorney's Office to review all cases in which Officer Bergman was involved for misconduct.
"If other New Yorkers have been wronged by Officer Bergman, we need to know. This behavior must not be tolerated," Luongo continued.
Bergman, who has been on the force for six years, was arraigned and released without bail. He will return to court in August.
Prosecutors said the incident Bergman lied about happened on Feb. 1, when he and his partner were on patrol in the 72nd Precinct. Bergman said he recognized a man who was wanted on burglary charges parallel parking on the side of the road, and drove up in an unmarked car hoping to arrest the man for driving without a valid license.
The 34-year-old officer later said that when he and his partner got out of their car, the suspect backed up his car and almost hit the partner who was standing behind the car. The suspect, Bergman claimed, then drove the car forward and forced him to dive out of the way as the suspect drove off. Bergman said he had scrapes on his elbow from diving to the ground.
His testimony was used against the suspect, who was later charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment and two unrelated burglary charges.
Prosecutors watched the surveillance video at the end of May, though, and saw that the unmarked police car pulled alongside the suspect's car after he had already finished parallel parking against the curb. The suspect did drive off when the officers got out of their car, prosecutors said, but it didn't come close to striking the officers.