Two bikers charged over beating of driver in NY chase incident
Video shows motorcyclist slowing in front of SUV ahead of crashes, chase and beating
Two motorcyclists have been charged in New York in relation to a confrontation ensuing from a series of collisions involving a pack of bikers and an SUV which saw one biker being run over.
Video of the episode, seen on screens across the US, shows a Range Rover colliding with one of scores of motorcycles that had commandeered the Henry Hudson Parkway. A confrontation ensues, then another crash - and finally a chase that ends with the SUV driver being attacked as his wife and toddler sit helplessly.
But the crispness of the helmet-camera images, captured by a rider in the pack of motorcyclists, gave way yesterday to a painstaking effort by investigators to piece together a frantic sequence of events that stretched over many minutes and several miles and that involved dozens of suspects and witnesses.
The police said they had charged two motorcyclists; one of them had turned himself in. A third rider was hospitalised, according to a family representative, who said the man’s legs had been broken when the Range Rover plowed into the crowd of motorcyclists gathered around one who had been knocked to the ground in the initial collision.
The 33-year-old man who was driving the Range Rover, Alexian Lien, was staying out of sight Tuesday, even as his confrontation with the motorcyclists became national news and had authorities raising concerns about motorcycle groups that try to take over roads for impromptu races and stunts. Detectives were looking into the possibility that the motorcyclists involved in Sunday’s episode had been trying to clear cars from the parkway - in an effort to perform tricks and ride unencumbered - when they encountered the Range Rover. The video appears to show motorcyclists at entrance ramps, possibly in an effort to block oncoming vehicles.
Such tactics are not uncommon among large groups of motorcyclists in and around New York, the authorities said. “We see an increase in the number of groups who will take over the entire highway for the purpose of slowing it down to allow others to race in front of them,” said Maj Michael Kopy of the New York State Police.
The New York City police commissioner, Raymond W Kelly, said hundreds of motorcyclists had descended on city streets on Sunday for a planned but unsanctioned event loosely organised by a riders’ group called Hollywood Stuntz.
“We had over 200 calls just on Sunday about this particular group operating in a reckless manner,” Mr Kelly said.
In interviews, motorcyclists in the group said that as they reached the Henry Hudson Parkway, there were many cars on the road. But as drivers slowed and pulled to the right to let the motorcyclists pass, the Range Rover remained in the centre lane, the video appears to show.
The first crash occurred as a rider slowed to a near-stop in front of the SUV. The video does not clearly depict the actions of the motorcyclists at that point. But the police said the driver of the SUV, quite likely feared for his safety as he sat in the vehicle with his wife and 2-year-old daughter - his car stopped and surrounded. One of the riders smashed the Range Rover’s driver side mirror, the police said.
Leaving the scene of an accident can be justified if the driver feels threatened by a menacing mob, prosecutors said. “If you are being physically threatened, the law doesn’t contemplate that you have to remain at the scene,” said Maureen McCormick, a former vehicular crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn.
The man who turned himself in, Allen Edwards, can be seen in the video pounding on the SUV with his hands as another rider smashes the driver’s side window with his helmet, the police said. Mr Edwards (42), of Queens, was present when Mr Lien was assaulted, the police said. He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and menacing.
The motorcyclist who was arrested, Christopher Cruz (28), of Passaic, New Jersey, was charged yesterday with reckless driving, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and menacing. Mr Cruz, the police said, can be seen in a 6-1/2-minute video taken by another motorcyclist slowing in front of the vehicle just before he is struck. He suffered minor injuries, the police said. Mr Cruz did not have broken legs, as the police had initially reported.
It was Edwin Mieses, another rider, whose legs were broken, his family said. Mr Mieses (32), a father of two from Lawrence, Massachusetts, who goes by the nickname Jay Meezee, had travelled to New York City with a friend for the unauthorised ride.
After the police broke up the ride, ticketing and arresting dozens of motorcyclists, Mr Mieses joined the group heading uptown. As some riders stayed back with those injured on the Henry Hudson Parkway, a large number chased the Range Rover, catching it in traffic in Washington Heights. There, Mr Kelly said, several motorcyclists pulled Mr Lien from the SUV and beat him. He had facial lacerations and bruising and has been released from the hospital.
On the Washington Heights block where the chase came to a violent end, residents recalled the sheer number of motorcyclists crowding around the SUV. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Lydia Reyes (63), who lives nearby. “It was too many people for one man.”
She said she could hear a woman’s screams during the assault.
Yesterday afternoon detectives canvassed the neighbourhood around the spot where the attack occurred, searching for witnesses. Mr Kelly said the number of men who attacked Mr Lien was still unclear, and the police were searching for more suspects.
New York Times