NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A man said he “felt intense danger” as he intervened in the beating of an sport-utility vehicle driver by a gang of bikers in Upper Manhattan.
As WCBS 880′s Jim Smith reported, Sergio Consuegra said he was walking to church Sept. 29 when he saw the Range Rover stop in Washington Heights and a bunch of motorcyclists approach.
“That moment, I started thinking to myself I’ve got to do something,” Consuegra said. “I know I’m going to be in danger, but I’m going to have to take a chance.”
He said he then stepped in and told the bikers: “That’s it, guys. Let it go.”
He said he shouted the same thing to a biker who was trying to pull the driver’s wife out of the SUV. Then, Consuegra said, he huddled over the beaten driver to protect him, staring down the drivers face to face.
Conseugra said he could see it in their eyes — he said there was no question that the bikers wanted to kill the driver.
Consuegra and two other people who helped the driver, Alexian Lien, and his family during the infamous assault caught on video were hailed by elected officials as heroes during a news conference Sunday in Washington Heights, where the attack happened a week before.
“On behalf of the entire city, we thank you,” City Councilman Robert Jackson, who represents Washington Heights, told Consuegra.
As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported Saturday afternoon, Consuegra said he did not think much about his actions until someone who the video of the beatdown recognized him and he lost the anonymity he had sought.
Police have said the bikers stopped the SUV on the Henry Hudson Parkway, attacked the vehicle and pulled the driver from the car on 178th Street after he plowed over a motorcyclist from Massachusetts while trying to escape.
Suspect Defiant At Sunday Arraignment
Meanwhile Sunday night, one of the bikers was behind bars after a defiant court appearance. Reginald Chance, 37, raised both middle fingers as he faced a judge for the first time.
Chance was charged Saturday with assault, gang assault, criminal mischief, criminal possession of a weapon, and unlawful imprisonment. His bail was set at $75,000 in court in Manhattan Sunday.
As WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman reported, police and prosecutors believe Chance was the biker seen in the video was posted to YouTube using his helmet to bash in the window of an SUV, police said. After the video was cut off, police believe Chance pulled Lien out of the vehicle and took part in a gang assault on the man.
Prosecutors identified Chance by his black leather jacket with a silver emblem, according to a criminal complaint.
At the arraignment hearing, Chance was alternately somber and defiant.
Chance’s attorney admitted his client was the one smashing his helmet in the infamous video, but said Chance did not take part in the beating.
“My client obviously overreacted in smashing the window, but beyond that, he was not a participant in any assault on that victim,” said defense attorney Gregory Watts.
Watts only admitted that his client committed criminal mischief.
“We concede the criminal mischief,” Watts said. “It’s obvious that he overreacted, but the law does permit someone who is a victim of an accident to at least attempt to get the ID of the motorist.”
Watts said Chance, a married father of six children, was being misrepresented by the charges.
“He is not this thug assaulting — someone who is harmless, contrary to public opinion,” Watts said.
At least three police officers were also riding with the pack during the incident — one of whom as been placed on desk duty while NYPD’s Internal Affairs investigates, CBS News reported. It is unclear if the other two who have come forward witnessed the attack.
Two other men have been charged in the case. Robert Sims, 35, was arraigned Saturday, charged with first-degree gang assault, first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Earlier this week, another suspect, Christopher Cruz, 28, was arraigned on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment.
Police have said he is the one seen at the start of the video cutting in front of Lien’s Range Rover, causing the initial collision. His defense lawyer, H. Benjamin Perez, has denied all the allegations.
Police on Saturday released a surveillance image of another person wanted for questioning in the attack. He is seen standing with his helmet off over the Lien, as the driver lies on the pavement, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
Police on Sunday evening also released a new photo of another biker wanted in connection with the assault. But police did not specify what the biker was accused of doing.
Another biker, Allen Edwards, surrendered to police but was released without charges.
On Saturday night, the man described by police as the top cooperating witness in the case, Kevin Bresloff, was given a police escort home.
Bresloff, at times referred to as “Kawasaki Kevin,” provided investigators with the helmet cam video of the violence, CBS 2′s Dave Carlin reported.
Bresloff’s attorney said that his client has been threatened for turning the video over to investigators.
Watch The Full Video Below: WARNING — GRAPHIC IMAGES
Police said Lien was driving his Range Rover with his wife and 2-year-old daughter in the car on Sunday when he was chased by dozens of bikers on the Henry Hudson Parkway.
The entire incident was captured on video by a Bresloff’s helmet-mounted camera and later posted to YouTube.
It all started when one of the bikers appeared to deliberately slow down in front of Lien’s Range Rover and brake hard, forcing Lien to rear-end him, police said.
That’s when other bikers surround the SUV. Police said some of the bikers began damaging the Range Rover, hitting it with their helmets and slashing its tires, though it’s not clear from the video.
Police said Lien was frightened and took off. He allegedly ran over Edwin “Jay” Mieses, a cyclist from Massachusetts, who has since been hospitalized with critical injuries.
After being chased by the bikers for nearly two miles, Lien was pulled out of his car and beaten when he got off the highway around West 178th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, police said.
Lien ended up bloodied and needing stitches. His wife and daughter were left shaken.
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