3 indicted in bikers’ clash with SUV driver; 3 NYPD officers under investigation
NEW YORK (CNN) — Three bikers have been indicted in connection with a well-publicized clash with a New York SUV driver, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said Friday.
Craig Wright, 29, and Reginald Chance, 37, were indicted Friday, according to the district attorney’s office. A third man, Robert Sims, 35, was indicted on Thursday, it said.
Authorities say Alexander Lien was chased by bikers after he initially bumped one during a biker rally on September 29. When his SUV was surrounded by several bikers, Lien called 9-1-1, told police he feared for his life and drove off, running over bikers and critically injuring one.
Lien’s wife and 2-year-old daughter were in the vehicle with him. Lien has not been charged.
The chase that followed ended in traffic. Police say Lien’s windows were smashed; he was dragged out of the SUV and beaten. He was treated and released from a hospital.
Officials did not detail the formal charges against the three men. In New York, charges in an indictment are not announced until defendants have been arraigned and can enter a plea.
Chance was accused of using his helmet to smash the SUV window, according to police. The lawyer for Chance concedes his client “overreacted,” but claims he did not take part in beating the driver.
Authorities arrested Wright for allegedly hitting the SUV driver through the window of his vehicle.
Sims was accused of stomping on the driver after he was pulled from his SUV, authorities said.
Wright, Chance and Sims are scheduled to be arraigned on October 30, according to the district attorney’s office.
At least seven people have been arrested, including the three who were indicted.
Authorities, who have appealed for the public’s help in identifying people in photos, haven’t ruled out more arrests or charges.
Meanwhile, a New York Police officer who works in Internal Affairs joins the ranks of at least two others with the NYPD who waited several days to tell their superiors they were at the rally where the SUV driver was beaten and kicked, according to the lawyer for the officer.
“He did what he had to do (by coming forward),” the officer’s attorney, Pat Bonanno, told CNN.
A law enforcement source, with knowledge of the case, told CNN the Internal Affairs officer didn’t report he was at the rally for at least a week.
CNN is withholding the officer’s name, who worked for Internal Affairs for five years, because he has not been charged with any wrongdoing at this time. The story was first reported by DNAInfo.com, a site specializing in crime news.
Bonanno says the officer belongs to a motorcycle club and was riding with hundreds of bikers who participated in the September 29th rally, but insists he didn’t witness the assault on Lien.
“He wasn’t aware of anything of the nature posted on YouTube and he doesn’t have any firsthand knowledge of what was going on,” Bonanno said.
“Once all the videos are reviewed and witnesses interviewed, we’ll find that my client has no culpability for anything that happened that day.”
Bonanno offered no explanation as to why the officer waited so long to tell his superiors he was there. “That will be addressed in an appropriate time and manner,” he said.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells CNN authorities are investigating his account.
Law enforcement sources have told CNN there were no on-duty police officers riding with the bikers in an undercover capacity.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner John McCarthy declined comment as did the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
At least two other officers are under investigation.
One of them is Detective Wojciech Braszczok, who faces three felony counts including gang assault. Prosecutors say the off-duty cop is on video allegedly using his fist to bash in the rear window of Lien’s SUV and kick it.
Braszczok’s lawyer has denied his client did anything wrong and says video will exonerate him.
Another law enforcement source has told CNN another off-duty officer who didn’t immediately report the incident was riding with Braszczok. That officer, according to sources, has been reassigned to a desk job.
He is not believed to have witnessed the assault and is not expected to be charged, said the source, who was spoke on condition of anonymity.