Lying to a grand jury is a crime. Unfortunately, many men and women are behind bars or stuck with a criminal record because officers of the law committed such crimes.
Too often, law enforcement officers get away with such behavior, but it’s different when video evidence turns up contradicting their testimony. That’s what happened to New York Police Department (“NYPD”) officer Michael Bergman, who was indicted for perjury in June. In November, he pleaded guilty and lost his NYPD job.
The Unmarked Police Car
In February, Pedro Barbosa, 44, was arrested, accused of trying to hit NYPD officers with his car after a stop. In the past, Barbosa has had his share of problems, including drug use. Now in treatment, he says his drug issues made keeping a job difficult, so he stopped paying child support.
The lack of child support payments ended up costing him his driver’s license, which made employment even harder. However, Barbosa has no history of violence or weapon use.
In the early hours of February 1, Barbosa was parallel parking his vehicle in a Sunset Park Brooklyn neighborhood when a black SUV pulled alongside him. He knew it was an unmarked police car, because he recognized the two men inside it.
The two NYPD officers, members of the department’s Grand Larceny Unit, had stopped him various times, knowing he had drug problems and a suspended license.
Barbosa alleged the cops were constantly following him, saying they were going to get him off the streets. That night, when the unmarked car pulled up and flashed its lights, Barbosa panicked and left the scene. However, that’s not the story Bergman told in a criminal complaint and to the grand jury.
Barbosa was later arrested and charged with a variety of offenses, including one count of first-degree attempted assault; one count of attempted assault on a police officer; one count of first-degree reckless endangerment; two counts of second-degree attempted assault; one count of second-degree reckless endangerment; one count of third-degree assault, and one count of third-degree attempted assault. He faced between 15 and 45 years in prison for an event that did not happen.
In his grand jury testimony, Bergman said that after he and his partner exited their SUV, Barbosa put his car into reverse and floored it, moving approximately 7 feet. He said Barbosa then put the car in drive, turning it towards Bergman so that “I was in between his headlights,” and would have been under the automobile if he hadn’t jumped out of the way.
The jump caused him to fall and injure his elbow. Bergman had the audacity to say the speedy reversal left skid marks behind.
Video Footage and Perjury Charges
The video footage obtained by Barbosa’s attorney and submitted to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office reveals what really occurred. Not only did Barbosa not put his vehicle in reverse, but as he drove off, the car did not come anywhere near Bergman.
Bergman was never in front of the car, and he didn’t fall down. The officer was later charged with first-and-second degree perjury, as well as making a false statement and official misconduct.
It's not the first time Bergman allegedly participated in a crime. In 2015, Bergman was named with three other cops in a lawsuit alleging they broke into the home of a man and “illegally trespassed, searched, invaded, intimidated and violated the plaintiff’s civil rights,” as per the lawsuit. The city settled the lawsuit for $175,000.
As for Barbosa, the attempted assault charges relating to Bergman’s testimony were dropped. Barbosa was still in jail until July after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor of stealing quarters from a laundry room to feed his drug habit. His car remains impounded.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by police officers or in a prison, we can help. We file federal civil rights lawsuits against police officers and law enforcement agencies to expose misconduct, prisoner abuse, and other atrocities. You may also be entitled to financial compensation. CALL US 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn your rights. You can also visit our police misconduct information page to learn more.