New York Daily News

September 21, 2016, 4:00 AM



EXCLUSIVE: Two cops injured in clash with goons on dirt bikes and ATVs as NYPD battles growing plague of the illegal vehicles


Two NYPD police officers were injured during a confrontation with a crew on dirt bikes and ATVs in Brooklyn on Saturday. (OBTAINED BY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Two motorbike fanatics were arrested for running over a cop and breaking two of his ribs, while bruising the hip of a second officer during a dustup in Brooklyn this past Saturday.

Graham Curtis, 34, of Middle Island, L.I., and Jamaal Elder, 32, of Queens, were part of a group of 50 dirt bike and ATV riders who descended on Old Fulton and Hicks Sts. between DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights about 5:20 p.m.

The confrontation was the latest example of the all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike scourge that has plagued the city’s streets — particularly on weekends — and came in the midst of a yearlong NYPD crackdown on the illegal bikes.

The crackdown has led to the seizure of more than 1,600 of the bikes, police said.

After years of relative indifference to the public nuisance, police have been seizing dirt bikes and ATVs at a much higher rate this year.

Through Sept. 18, the NYPD has seized 1,607 bikes, compared with 1,082 in the corresponding period last year — an increase of about 49%.

“I think the results are positive,” NYPD Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said. “Our efforts have resonated throughout the city.”

Through Sept. 18, cops have arrested 240 people for recklessly riding the bikes this year, compared with 260 last year — an 8% drop — police said.

In August, citywide 911 calls about the bikes dropped by 30% compared with the same month last year, Gomez said.

Jamaal Elder was busted following Saturday's run-in with police. (FACEBOOK/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Through Sept. 6, crashes involving the bikes have dropped 65% — to 21 from 60 last year, Gomez said.

“That tells me that our efforts have really paid off,” Gomez said. “Less of these vehicles are on the streets, and that translates into less individuals getting injured.”

Despite continued efforts to put a stop to the noisy offenders, the area near Brooklyn Bridge Park became the latest battleground in the war against the dangerous vehicles.

Officers Maxim Maloshag and Artem Prusayev, both assigned to the 84th Precinct, were on patrol with their two-wheel scooters when they responded to a call about the reckless riders causing traffic problems.

When the cops got there, the men drove up and surrounded Maloshag. One collided with his scooter, and that’s when he fell and got hurt, police said.

Prusayev was about 100 feet away. One of the motorbike riders hit his scooter on the rear left side and the cop lost control and fell — and was then run over by an ATV driven by Curtis, police said.

Maloshag, who has been a cop for two years, suffered a bruised right hip and a scraped right arm. Prusayev, also an NYPD officer for two years, suffered two broken ribs and a scraped right arm.

Curtis fled the scene on foot. He was arrested after a chase at Nostrand Ave. and Herkimer St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. According to court records, a police officer spotted Curtis and approached him.

The NYPD has been seizing dirt bikes and ATVs at a much higher rate this year. (OBTAINED BY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Curtis ran off and climbed over a fence and then briefly struggled with cops after they caught up to him. Cops found marijuana in his pocket.

Elder was arrested at Sheridan Ave. and Conduit Blvd. He was charged with reckless endangerment.

A cop spotted Elder speeding down Conduit on a 2001 Honda motorcycle without a helmet, court records show.

Elder’s cycle then stalled and he abandoned that bike and then jumped on the back of a motorcycle owned by Auxiliary Officer Yann Smith. He pushed Smith off the bike and grabbed on to the throttle. He then dropped the bike and damaged it.

Cops approached him and Elder took off. He was caught after a brief chase.

Elder was driving with a revoked license, and didn’t have his insurance and registration, authorities said.

Elder had been arrested 23 previous times. He was also shot and wounded twice, in 2011 and 2016.

Elder and Curtis were slapped with more than a dozen criminal charges each, including assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, trespassing and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting it, court records show.

An NYPD police officer is seen on the ground after being struck by a person on an ATV near the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday. (OBTAINED BY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/OBTAINED BY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Elder was being held on $50,000 bail or $75,000 cash at Rikers Island. Curtis made bail and has been released.

In May, then-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton presided over a very public crushing of 69 bikes at the Erie Basin Auto Pound in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

“We want to send out a very strong message to the nitwits and knuckleheads who insist on operating these illegal vehicles on the streets, sidewalks, parks and housing developments of the City of New York,” he said at the time.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he favors the crackdown.

“We need police officers to have zero tolerance,” he said. “Anyone riding those bikes needs to be stopped and the vehicle confiscated.”

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the root of the problem can be traced to the police staffing shortage. The department is down about 4,500 cops since its staffing high of 2001.

“These bikers come out in droves, and our officers are expected to corral them without enough manpower to do the job,” said Lynch. “The situation is seriously hazardous to our members and a threat to public safety. To solve this problem, our troops will need reinforcements.”

Dirt bike advocate Benjamin Charles said the crackdown is increasing the level of danger.

“This kind of thing wasn’t happening before,” he said. “If you know you are going to do a sport you love, and you could die or go to jail from it, it’s going to make you nervous.”