In typical Fox News fashion, when we asked a Fox News writer how a Central Park cyclist ended up being dragged on the hood of his SUV for four blocks, he blamed the victim, calling the biker a "vigilante."
Brian Dooda, a Brooklyn film archivist, was riding his bike on East Dr. in Central Park at about 5 p.m. on Thursday when he says a grey SUV cut him off, nearly swiping his front tire. Angered, Dooda caught up with the car, which had "NYP" license plates designating its driver as a media representative, at the next red light. He positioned himself in front of the SUV and told the driver to slow down and observe the park's 25 m.p.h. speed limit. Here's what happened next, according to an account Dooda gave to the NYPD and posted on a cycling message board:
SThe driver then accelerated, lunging straight into me, knocking me and my bicycle to the ground and to the left side of his car. I quickly got to my feet and positioned myself in front of his vehicle to prevent him from fleeing the scene. I called out to bystanders to call the police and yelled at the driver that he was insane, he just hit me, and he can't leave. The driver again accelerated into me, with no intention of stopping, forcing me, prostrate, onto the drivers side hood of his vehicle. Riding precariously with a 4,000 lb wheel inches from pulling me beneath it, I screamed for the driver to "Stop!!! Please Stop!!" over and over. He continued to ignore my pleas for some 200ft. keeping a steady 5 or 10mph. He then stopped suddenly allowing me to fall off the side of the hood. Just as quickly as he stopped he violently accelerated again knocking me to the side. This time I managed to stay standing. The driver then sped off Northbound. At this point several witnesses came to my aid and reported his license plate.
Dooda emerged from the ordeal with only a scraped elbow, but another poster to the message board who claimed to witness to the incident, painted a pretty scary picture. (In fact, it was her post that originally prompted Dooda to come forward with the statement he gave to police):
It was a bizarre sight ... a cyclist was on the hood, shouting at the driver, to please please stop the car. That cyclist kept shouting to the guy to stop, he was saying/shouting, "You could have killed me. Stop, Please stop. This is my life." something like that. We saw his bike in the road, left behind, as the SUV drove on, with the cyclist on his hood.
When the cops arrived and told Dooda that the "NYP" plate meant that the driver who nearly killed him was a journalist, Dooda told Gawker he joked: "I wonder if he's from Fox News, because he was such an asshole."
Gawker tracked down the driver, Don Broderick, who says he is a news writer for Fox News (he was formerly a reporter for the New York Post). When we first called him to confirm that he was the man to whom the vehicle that dragged Dooda for blocks was registered, Broderick said, "I don't know what you're talking about," and asked if he could call us back. A couple hours later, he called to acknowledge that he was indeed the driver, but said that he was the victim of a "vigilante" bicyclist who had attacked him: "Whatever this guy is claiming, there's no truth involved—he punched me. And I left, because he was attacking me."
Dooda says he never laid hands on Broderick, whom, he says, stared with "cold psychotic intent" while Dooda was on his hood, and answered his pleas to stop with shrugs of the shoulders and the occasional "get the fuck out of here."
"He wasn't like hanging out the window screaming 'you fucking pussy!'" Dooda says. "He spoke with his car."
Both men agree that the altercation started because Dooda was riding his bike in the left-hand lane at roughly 25 m.p.h., which caused a line of ten or so cars to back up behind him. Broderick's was the last car to get around him, which is when Dooda says Broderick tried to send him a message by abruptly cutting back over into the left lane in front of him, coming close to his tire. "He initiated the whole encounter by almost running into me," he says. "I'm sure he felt like I was antagonizing motorists because I was in the left lane riding a bicycle. But did I attack him? If he considers me pointing out that he is an aggressive and dangerous driver to be an attack, yes. Otherwise, no."
No matter who started it, actually hitting someone with your car, and then hitting them again, and then dragging them on your hood for 200 feet, and then driving away can't be legal! Dooda, who was only slightly injured with some scrapes and bruises, filed a police report with the Central Park Precinct, and says a detective has been in touch. Broderick says he hasn't been contacted by the police, and an NYPD spokesperson couldn't immediately confirm that an investigation is underway.
New York Press license plates are issued to members of the working media who can demonstrate that they are employed by a news organization—in Broderick's case, Fox. They let reporters park in special reserved spots in New York City and avoid tickets for illegal parking if they're actually covering a news story. They also let road-ragers get tagged as media employees, which sparks the interest of bloggers.
A Fox News spokeswoman didn't immediately return calls for comment.
[Illustration by Steven Dressler; if you have actual photos of the incident, please send them our way.]