Friday, January 30, 2004

What a mess…
Sometimes things go well, and sometimes, things don’t yesterday was one of those days where they don’t and so consequently, I have a lot of extra work to do today. The first thing I should mention is that there has been a change in the incoming mailbox. And so for those of you who tried to E-mail me for the last two days, I apologize for the problems. The new E-mail is

Not much different from the old but enough extra work for me to make me curse a little.

So I am going to make a little change in plan from what I was going to do, and I will instead print the text of one of the three later essays I wrote to the courts in the hope of stopping the madness that was for me this case.
I think a few things need to be said about this writing. All of thes4e were written in Ostrow Mazowieski at the house of the friend who was supporting me by this time. Now in terms of the information available to me at this time about the what was said in the court testimonies, you must understand that I had only just received the transcriptions of the court texts, in Polish, from Marcin Borus my attorney only about two weeks earlier. This specifically refers to the Daughters testimony which I finally got back only after the draft of this document was made. You’ll see this in the text. Ostrow was for me at that time a very difficult place to find translators, both because of the small amount of quality English speakers, and my own fear of exposure in that town. I was known as an English teacher there.
So the content here does not mention a lot of the things that were made clear later on when I finally got to hear all of the texts. And yes, that no one was translating for me very well at the trial was also a problem.
I think this first essay has something to say though, and it is worth a read. I am also bogging it on its own page under the title of “Reactions”. Over there, I am including the entire text as it was presented to the court, including the my friend Ewa’s Polish translation.
Lot’s more on the way, and again, I am sorry for any inconvenience about the mail address.

Warsaw Poland
February 25, 2003
Reactions: An essay for the courts

I am writing this letter today because of the second break I have had with my attorney. Because I do not know the system myself, and because of difficulties I have had dealing with Mr. Marcin Borus, I am writing today in the hope of clearing up the last few items I have to show in my case.
I am rewriting this report into polish at the request of the judge and there are some changes from the original version. I have only just heard the translation of the story from Katergina Zareba last night (February 13), and had only gotten it from Warsaw a week before the February 12th court date. Until this time, I wasn’t very clear as to this documents content. Translations have been difficult for me during the whole of this affair, and I am very grateful to my friend for both translating that document as well as this for me.
In this letter, I have some thoughts about the whole of the case I would like to share with you after hearing the court testimonies of Zareba, his witnesses and his daughter.
I also have wanted to show as evidence my bike in this case, and I have wanted to do so for only a few specific reasons. I wanted the court to better understand how the bike I ride works and why it is different from “normal” bikes. I wanted to show how this bike, designed by me to fit a specific need in biking, demonstrates my own expertise in the area of bikes. And also to show how some statements made by Mr. Zareba are provably false.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727), said basically that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The reason I mention this is that the whole of my case is predicated on the idea that all of the actions of myself, of Zareba, of the courts, of my attorneys and of the police, have been a result of reactions to the actions of the others which had transpired before. The theory as to what constitutes a crime in law as I understand it is: For there to be a crime, there needs to be an action, damage, and criminal aforethought (guilty mind). And because all the actions of all of the parties in my situation were predicated on reactions to other events, I am going to try to show a few things today I hope would make a little more clear some issues about my case, now, before this last court session.)
I have been asked only one question by the prosecution: Why did you hit him? And my answer was and is simply because he hit my intentionally with a car. I am not sure one needs to be a biker to understand this clearly. I am also not sure it is necessary to say one is crazy to have made such a reaction. But it is a good question to ask; if you are attacked, what are you supposed to do? My choice was to simply address the man who had attacked me directly. I went directly to him an expressed my opinion, in a way that should transcend any language barriers, that should never in any way attempt to do such a thing as hitting a biker with a car ever again. He acted, I reacted.
Is this crazy? I have seen on television, Andre Lepper, a member of Polish parliament and obviously not an undesirable hooligan, start a fist fight in reaction to something he strongly disagreed with right there on the floor of parliament. I have seen the police of the city of Warsaw, in what I feel was a strong reaction to something they had heard about bikers and their potential violence, (my belief is that it was the story Zareba had told about me), turn a peaceful demonstration of bicycle solidarity and safety into a riot. I saw them “react to” some biker’s disinterest in being abused (a reaction)by beating them with sticks, and knocking them down with cars and motorcycles and tackling them from their bikes.
I have seen the prosecutor of my case, make my case last as long as he can “in reaction to” my desire not to pleading guilty or admitting to things I had not done. I have seen my attorney quit on me (twice) “in reaction to” my disagreeing with his bargaining away my name and using my reputation as a currency rather than arguing the truth as I have asked. I have seen the whole of my life ripped apart “in reaction to” a story told by a cop that simply was not true.
And what was the desired reaction from the prosecutor on may 16th when he, in some great dramatic fashion, says to me mid interview: “it is at this time that the accused was informed that the man he hit was indeed a police officer”? What was the desired reaction from the police attacking the riders at the critical mass?

I am a bicyclist. I do not drive a car because I do not wish to. I have made my living buying and selling bikes, as well as from being a rider. I respect and love bikes. What Zareba did to me is a bike crime. What he did was the worst possible thing anyone can do to a biker. It was an intentional assault on me using a car as a weapon. That Mr. Zareba is a cop should not make any difference in this because he was not in uniform, he was not on police business, he never showed me his badge or ever even claimed to have any reason to attack me. I did not hit a policeman, he was just some guy who decided it was ok to hit a biker with a car, and that is all.

Why did Zareba do what he did?
The one thing I have never understood is why did Zareba hit me with his car in the first place? For the last nine months I have wanted to know this one thing more then any other. The three possibilities that I could think of were: That he was paid to stop me by someone who wanted me to remain in Poland, that he was intending to rob me because he knew I was American beforehand, or that he simply made a really stupid driving maneuver, and tried to cover up for his actions. At this time, I feel I am clear on this subject and I would like to try to explain.
We have heard (and this is how I understand this to be translated from the testimony of the daughter) that the car was in fact very close to the bus and directly behind me. I like this picture very much, as it would contribute to my not seeing the car as a problem when I attempted to move to the left lane. If he was in the left, I would have let him pass if he was close, if he was directly behind me, it is my prerogative to take the lane. And really, we are all supposed to be going very slowly here.
But what happens next is where all of our problems start. Zareba sees me move just ahead of him. Perhaps he has planned the move to go to the left, to save a second or so at the stop. Perhaps it is only at this minute he decides to change to the left lane, and he simply “forgets for a second” that I am a moving object. But I am already going into this lane, along the stripe, and this, for some reason, predicates a reaction on Zareba’s part. This reaction is a violent impulse to be in front of me, and he decides to act on this. He steps on the gas, speeds around me to my left. For some reason, he executes a hip-check (hockey) and misses me by a few inches. Or basically, he had what is called an attack of “road rage”.

“He should have known... that the biker should not go between the cars.” (From Zareba’s second account to the prosecutor, May 16th.

I like this picture of the events more than I like any “conspiracy theories” for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I have never understood why anyone would conspire to keep me here in the first place. I don’t have so much money to be worth the effort, I don’t want to be here, and nothing I do (the playwriting or the planned bike shop), have any massive political or economic repercussions. I am simply too small a fish to try and catch in this way. But the better reason why I like this picture, is if what I am saying is true, then what we have is only a reaction by Zareba and not a planned attack. It was a violent one, and he knew it. He made a mistake. He did a stupid thing.
Perhaps in reaction to that move on his part, that hip check, that attempt to hit me with the car he was driving, he realizes he has done something wrong and then slides to a stop in my path, pinning me to the bus, the same sort of thing a football player does when he misses an easy shot.

How the type of bike I ride has influence on the situation
I think that in order to tell a really good lie, one has to infuse the lie with enough truth to really make it all believable. Now, in Zareba’s story, he has always maintained there was a right to left, perpendicular move he claims I have made (see large report from 23 October.) making him brake and honk, etc... I also like the daughter’s story here because she gives us, for the first time in this case, a good visual picture from Zareba’s point of view. Zareba always describes the action of my going from right to left while he is driving at speed, but normally this is said to be some distance from the stop. But, according to the daughter, this must take place (though she makes no actual mention of it) only while coming around the bus.
But, he does indeed see something, this “rocking back and forth”, he describes in his accounts. The bike I ride is a “fixed gear” bike. Track bikes, as these bikes are usually called, are designed for racing on velodromes (bike tracks). My bike is a hybrid, combining the qualities of several different bikes and was designed especially for use on the street. Track bike design is pretty simple - no gears & no brakes. They are direct-drive, which means the pedals must turn if the wheels turn. The reason for this is that there is no “freewheel” in the rear hub. A freewheel is a device in the rear hub of a bicycle that lets the rear wheel continue turning after the pedals are stopped. As this freewheel mechanism is not present in this bike there are several things one simply cannot do. One can never “coast” or continue to move at all without peddling. And, of course, one cannot stop as quickly because all of the braking action is strictly accomplished by back-leveraging the rear wheel. It is usually well know that “track bike riders”, by definition as well as necessity are the most controlled bikers because we have the most difficult bike to control.
I believe that this “rocking back and forth” would also be something he saw as he was approaching the bus, because the normal technique of slowing a fixed gear bike down, is to stand and put pressure on the back part of the peddle stroke. This makes the rider appear to rock on the bike as he rises and falls, slowing the peddles with his body weight.
But also, because my bike has no “freewheel” or brakes, the move of perpendicularly passing in front of him at speed impossible. If I tried to cross one lane like he says, I would hit the tramway because I couldn’t stop. No man my size could not make the bike stop in such a short distance without skidding or making a hook-slide and these maneuvers were in no way represented by Zareba. And, all “track bike” riders know that they cannot do such maneuvers in the first place because of the limitations of the bike.
Certainly this applies also to my “kicking he bike along”, with my foot on the ground, while supposedly coming through the cars.

From the court testimonies:
“I saw that he had troubles fitting between the cars, especially that he had the bus on the right which was taking up almost all of the lane during this ride, he was kicking his feet along the ground, rocking back and forth on the bike...”

Again, as the bike has no “freewheel”, the peddles must turn if the rear wheel is turning, so there is no coasting along as if you are pushing a skateboard because the peddles would grab your legs. These are simply things that one cannot do while on a “fixie”.
Zareba has also said that some marks on his car were caused by my handlebars... this is impossible simply because my handlebars are “drops” (bars that curl downward). My hands are normally on the outside. If I did bump the car, I would have broken my fingers. I asked the judge at my first hearing to look at my handlebar wraps specifically because (and was also in the lost police report), there were no damages at all.
If I was in a situation as he had described, being behind the bus and waiting, I would have either, lifted the bike over my head and walked to the front, or waited, or gone around the other way, just like any biker would have done. And if I had wanted to break up his car, I would have used my lock, or a key, but never my bare hands, and never, ever my bike. No rider would ever do this.
Zareba, clearly is thinking of a mountain bike, with straight handlebars and gears. He is speaking from his imagination and not from his memory. This is not the bike I ride.

The chain of reactions.
In Zareba’s testimony to the court, and from his daughter’s he has repeatedly told us how “gentle” he was with me, how delicate. Logically, if we account for the size differences between us, I simply cannot believe this describes a real confrontation at all. I think that he would have been at least a little scared, but, I don’t think it was of me. I think he was afraid because he has just made a really stupid driving mistake and it could cost him dearly because he had just had a bad accident a few months earlier. And I think being frightened of what he has just done, he looks to put his blame on me.

From Zaremba’s first statement to the police.
“I would just like to say that before this time, nothing happened (I didn’t do anything.)”

“Kurva!” he says to me. What I am hearing him say to me is “Look what you have made me do!” Or, “It is somehow your fault that I have just tried to kill you!”

I reacted to this. I told him he was wrong in his actions. I told him he could hurt somebody by driving this way. I told him that what he had done was very disrespectful and that he should never, ever do such a thing, ever again, to any biker, anywhere, ever.
What were his real reactions to this moment in his life? Well, he never leaves the car or makes any phone calls. Our “fight” is over in twenty seconds because I hit him only twice. Then, after seeing that he is focusing on me and not on the situation (I felt he was “setting me up” because he not seem sorry or confused after driving into me), I rode to the cops. I went to the cops to get him away from me, but Zareba saw me heading to the police, he knows I will tell them what he has done, so he puts the car in gear and drives after me so that he can talk to his cops before I can.
But, he leaves the scene without collecting witnesses. He has phone and he can see me and that I am trapped between him and the police station.

From the court testimony:
“I looked at what the accused was doing. He was riding forward and backward through the passage, and looking at me.”

There is, according to him, a cop right there and many people watching who would be witnesses. All he needed to do was to call, let the cops do the work, find some names, and he has me. All he has to do is to show his badge. But he simply doesn’t do these things. Why? Well, this is not about calm heads or being gentle. He doesn’t do these things because the story is not true.
At the KSP Zareba shows all of the damages his car has ever sustained over the years as evidence. He also claims all of his previous dental problems as well. Because Zareba is a fellow officer, “in reaction to” his story, the police never walked the 150 meters or so to the scene to ask people what they have seen either. He taunts me about his power to hide the truth in his fourth account:

From the court testimony:
“If this was a quiet conflict or a conversation I don’t think it would have been a problem finding witness. And from this regard it was because he was acting like a raving madman I rate that this is why nobody hurried with giving help”

Because I was a madman, he doesn’t need to collect witnesses. I think his story misses in so many places because there was a lot of damages to account for; he must embellish a lot to make the account fit. He needs the story to fit, and no witnesses to say he is lying.
At this moment, though scared, Zareba was thinking he had a payday. I think he has heard me speak in English, and this means money. There is a lot of “power” in being a policeman. There are many things a policeman can do that a normal citizen can’t. This situation is one of them. He simply wanted and needed the money. He is with the cops, he is in control and he didn’t need witnesses to tell anybody about his driving: He was thinking he had caught a big fat fish...

from Zareba’s third testimony

“....the damages could be more, but I will let this amount stand”

After this, he didn’t try to call the insurance company not because he knows me, but because he has previously driven his car into a tree. I think he was afraid that if he had another driving problem, his insurance rates would go up, he could lose his car or his license and if he loses his license, it could mean the end of his job. And, an insurance adjuster would never be as friendly or generous to him as the police.
So, I say the original move was a mistake. But I think the cover-up was about money. He made one mistake, he was afraid of the consequences so he tried to make me disappear in order to make this problem go away. Of course he was also trying to get paid.

How Zareba has changed his story several times:

I wrote two papers about the differences between Zereba’s first report and his second, focusing on the assistance provided by generously pro-police prosecutor, Mr. Wiesniakowski. I felt that Zareba was feeling much more protected after meeting with the prosecutor. It feels terrible to be alone and to feel scared, which is how his first statement sounds. I think this is why there is such a difference between Zareba’s first and second account. I think the rational for these distortions were most probably due to the Prosecutor’s influence, that the prosecutor protectively sided with Zareba and that his motivation was politically oriented: No “police scandals”. I was American, they thought I had money, I would probably just pay up in order to get away, and I was alone. The game would be won, the scandal avoided and Zareba’s problems finished with a simple confession. That’s what happened. I still see this as true.
On may 15th, Zareba walked into the police station and gave a rather badly thought-out story, the last words of which was the fearful plea of self defense mentioned above. But, On may 16th In reaction only to Zareba being a cop, the prosecutor chose to back Zareba even though there were no witnesses or even a very good story: Probably “in reaction to” some advice about a lack of motive in my story, Zareba changed his story: He was no longer a pure victim, it wasn’t that “nothing had happened” now, the issue was that he was trying to “teach” a biker about driving between the cars. I was jailed and he went home

From Zaremba’s 2nd report:
“I was surprised by the decision of the cyclist to go between the standing vehicles. The cyclist shouldn’t have been riding between the vehicles. The law does not allow him to do this.”

How would he know I would ride between the cars? He was claiming I was still behind the bus. His reason for the event was something that had not happened yet. I think as an American, I was unprepared for how completely politics superseded the truth here.
On the 17th, I am offered bail, try to pay it the following Monday and am prepared ton get back to my life (bail, you get back, extortion is gone). “In reaction to” my getting some normal treatment, and knowing that he has no case, the prosecutor reacts to this by complaining that I should not be let go, even though it would have been in the state's and Zareba’s best interest to allow me to go because if I did run away, the case is closed without opposition and there would have been enough money in the bail to pay Zareba’s claims. And if I had run, Poland would have had no further problems from me, true or otherwise.
My reaction to this was to fear for my life.
For the first two months I never knew for one day what was being said about me in this case. And though I knew that the situation was a lie, I believed that I could be arrested at any time. When I was finally shown the court documents for the first time, I was shocked. I thought that Zareba had confessed on the second day! I didn’t understand why I was still here.
I pointed out the “water damage” on the car’s hood. I tried to point out that this illustrated that the damages to the car were indeed old and not new. There was no attorney at that meeting, and I had no knowledge of what was happening. Nevertheless, at a meeting, held two months later, “In reaction to” hearing what I said, and because there was now an “expert opinion” about “if the damage to the car could be done by a hand.” Zareba changed his story, adding in some words about the inspection being done in the rain (see Zareba’s third account) as well as the story about the black marks on the side of the car, that being the only place on the car “not” to able to be hurt by a hand.
I was never even told that Zareba would be at this meeting by my attorney. NO warning, no preparations. But, ironically, and probably because he was concentrating so hard on making his story sound good, Zareba had forgotten that the inspector did see a black mark on the side and he got the story about the water damage wrong. This frivolous mistake and his phony rhetoric about the rain was as false as his story. In reaction to all of this, I refused to sign the document and wrote a very long paper about the whole of the event.
In that paper, I pointed out with as much detail as I could what I meant by water damages and how the dirt and the dents on the hood very clearly showed that the damages to the car were old. This paper was submitted to the courts on 23 October. No doubt it was read by Zareba. Probably “in reaction to” this, and apparently forgetting his previous statements regarding the condition of his car...

From Zareba’s third testimony

“All of the described damages I have told about have come about as a result of Mr. Goodman's actions, specifically throwing the bike or by action with his hands. “

Zareba now told the court that indeed there not only was previous damages to the car, but massive damages and that these damages were as a result of Zareba himself driving the car into a tree!!
The car had a collision in January or February 2002, when I drove off the road and into a tree.

From the court testimony”
“On result of damages was a broken front bumper, front belt, broken off of fastening of searchlights, the reflector that is to say so-called. The hood, water cooler and condenser of air-conditioning…”

And, just to try and show that there must have been some damages caused by the biker he adds:

“Roof did not become {remained} damaged.”

His story is not good. But really, I know now that all of this has been caused because I am socially unacceptable and not because Mr Zareba told lies or is an irresponsible driver.

What Katerina Zareba saw, and how it affects the case.

The story from the perspective of Katergina Zareba made many things quite clear. Most of the things she said seem to agree quite well with my version of the events and disagree strongly with Zareba’s. In this story, the car was in the center lane, and not in the left. This is probably why I felt I had a free right-of-way to go down the lane next to the bus. I am directly in front of them, and already on the stripe to the left of the bus. Zareba could see me there ahead of him, and could see what I was doing already: It was clearly my lane, the bus was stopping and there are no cars to ride between. And we were absolutely at the stop! There was no reason for him to try and pass me quickly. And, if they had not slowed down by then, as if it was simply an accident, they were going way too fast. But there was no “accident because I heard him speed up and Katergina tells us that there was indeed a violent, hard stop and that it was only there at the lights.

All quotes here from her court testimony.
“I figured it out myself that someone had cut in..”


“Mr. Goodman was riding on my side of the car, and to the left of the bus.”

So, Zareba sees me slowing my bike down and on the stripe, but decides to take the lane anyway from behind me even though I am already there in the lane in front of him. There is no “accident”, this is surely and obviously a choice he had made even though the move he was making was quite dangerous to everybody concerned.
However, Katergina was coached. She admits this freely, and it is acknoweleged by the psychological expert. The most prominent “coaching spot” I can see, is where she is obviously echoing her father’s story when she says there were some cars that were stopped behind her. Now, obviously, there is no need for the cars being there in her story, because all of the events happened while we both, simultaneously try to pass the bus. But, a look at the photo of the car taken at Wilcza street shows that this part of her story is simply not logically possible. Katergina, a normal sized 11 year old girl, is a good 10 cm shorter then the high backed seats of the red Renault Magan. There would be no view for her from the mirrors; the center mirror has no view at all for her and the right-side door mirror, as we all know, angled for the driver and not the passenger, reflects back to someone in the passenger seat only their own face. The action was to her right, and behind her, though she claims not to remember this. The “fight” quickly went around the front of the car and to her left. So really, she never would ever had had the chance to see what, if anything was behind her.

“I don’t remember the moment when the biker was riding between us and the bus.”

I also think that saying that I hit the car with my hand was also a coach. I will always maintain that I didn’t hit his car or break his window. The prosecutor and I talked about this “car hitting” when we saw the report of the car inspection from the 15th. The report stated that the car had fingerprints on the hood. Now, I had been fingerprinted at the station and I asked if he was saying that these fingerprints were mine. He reacted to this with some enthusiasm, at the time, but apparently they were not. I think that Zareba’s claims about the car’s damage have been shown to be pretty false. I think after his own testimony about hitting a tree, he mentioned about the roof not being damaged for a reason. Interestingly enough, this and the glass are the only place left to try and claim something from me. So he gives this story to his daughter while coaching her. I guess this is something that has something to do with personality. The man drives a car into me, and then makes up outrageous lies about me for the purposes of getting money. The guy gets caught telling these stories often, regardless of his protection, but yet, he is still attacking me, just like he did in May. He is still attacking me, 10 months later.

I have talked about what a courier would have done if he really wanted to beat up a car. But, really, I simply did not attack this man’s car. And really, I think that the story now, is in fact pretty clear. I think Katergina Zareba did a very good job of finding the compromise between telling the truth and protecting her father. I think she was a great witness because she showed us as good a picture of her father as it was possible to do.

As of this moment, it is my belief that I have no attorney. And, as I feel that I must defend myself, I have written yet another group of papers on this case.
I like this idea of road rage over intended extortion in the first moment, because it allows for Zareba’s rational, however cruel, to exist in a form I can understand. But his story was false and was designed to get some money from me. He used his influence as a cop to help him in this, but still managed to give away his folly.
I feel that logically, because I ride a track bike, much of Zareba’s accounts of my actions are impossible, though I do think this “makes some sense” out of some of the things he claims he saw. Obviously, Mr. Zareba doesn’t know very much about bikes or riders, or couriers or what it is like to ride a bike in a big city. If he did, he probably never would have tried to hit me with his car.
I have never backed away from my actions and have only tried to bring some real clarity to the proceedings. This was a bicycle incident first and foremost. I am a bicyclist, and I have been one for many years. It is simply wrong to hit someone with a car when they are riding. It is also wrong to tell lies that are intended to harm others or to cover for one’s own mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But how we deal with those mistakes shows who we are as people.

Adam Goodman