A Brooklyn cop was indicted Wednesday on a perjury charge for allegedly lying in a criminal complaint and having a man falsely arrested who he claimed nearly ran him and his partner over. The problem is, the man didn’t, according to prosecutors.
Michael Bergman, who was assigned to the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division, was with his partner in Sunset Park on Feb. 1 when they pulled up in their unmarked vehicle next to the car of a burglary suspect whom Bergman recognized, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney. Both cops exited their vehicle. In a criminal complaint and grand jury testimony, Bergman claimed that the suspect backed up the car, nearly hitting Bergman’s partner, who was behind the car. Bergman — who said he was in front of the suspect’s car — claimed the car then zoomed forward, almost hitting him and forcing him to dive to the ground, sustaining injuries.
But video footage obtained by the DA’s Office in May shows that the suspect’s car never reversed, and that when it drove off, it did not come close to hitting Bergman.
“We allege that this police officer’s actions led to an individual being falsely accused of crimes that he did not commit. All of us who work in law enforcement rely on the truthfulness and integrity of our police officers — it is integral to our commitment to safety and equal justice. We will now seek to hold this officer accountable,” said Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez in a statement.
Bergman was arraigned Wednesday in front of Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. He arrived in court surrounded by cops and members of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and was released without bail. He is charged with first- and second-degree perjury, making a false statement and official misconduct.
All charges against the burglary suspect related to Bergman’s testimony were dropped. Bergman’s partner — whose name was not released — was not charged.
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a statement that officers who break the law should be held accountable, though he did not address Bergman’s case specifically. The NYPD suspended Bergman without pay, as is their protocol whenever a police officer is arrested, an NYPD spokesperson said.
Bergman was named as a defendant along with three other officers in a 2015 lawsuit, in which they allegedly broke into a man named Willie French’s home, “illegally trespassed, searched, invaded, intimidated and violated the plaintiff’s civil rights,” according to a lawsuit.
The city settled French’s lawsuit for $175,000, according to data from the Legal Aid Society.
Bergman was not the only cop facing scrutiny in court Wednesday. Down the hall on the same floor, disgraced former Det. Louis Scarcella was testifying in the hearing of a man seeking to have his 1996 murder conviction overturned.
Bergman, who is represented by John Tynan, is due back in court Aug. 7.