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Cyclist injured by NYPD car gets billed $1,263 for damage to vehicle

City drops demand for money - the third such case in recent months, says the New York Post

A cyclist in New York City who was hospitalised after being struck by an unmarked police car has spoken of his disbelief after being billed more than $1,200 for the damage that happened to the vehicle during the incident.

According to the New York Post, it’s at least the third time in recent months that city authorities have sent victims bills in similar circumstances – and each time, they have quietly dropped the demand for money after being challenged.

The latest bill, in the sum of $1,263, was received by Justin Johnsen, a 31-year-old resident of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who was riding his bike to work as a design-engineer in Red Hook last November when he was hit by a Ford Taurus that happened to be an unmarked police car.

“I think it’s preposterous,” said Johansen of the bill he received. “I was upset,” continued the cyclist, who had to visit hospital after the incident to have stitches inserted in wounds to his arms.

“I was in kind of disbelief that they were going to send this letter after four months or so and ask me to pay damages for their vehicle, when they hit me when I was on a bicycle.”

Describing the background to the incident, which happened at 8.30 in the morning on 5 November, he said: “I had left the bike lane to make a left turn, and I looked behind me and saw that it was clear, and the farthest car was a fair distance.

He indicated to turn, but said that before he could do so, he “was swiped by this car on my left side. I didn’t feel too good . . . I got some big gashes to my elbows,” he explained, adding that the while the two officers in the vehicle were “pretty friendly” after the collision, they were “not apologetic at all.”

While his medical bills ran to several hundred dollars, Johnsen said he hadn’t thought about suing the police, but in the matter of the demand for money for damage to his vehicle he has a lawyer, Daniel Flanzig, acting for him on a pro bono basis.

Flanzig, who had volunteered his services after hearing that the city had told Johnsen it would sue him if he didn’t pay, said: “They should be sending an apology letter instead of a bill.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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