Biker Accused Of Triggering Motorcycle Melee Speaks Out
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Another biker was taken into custody Monday in connection with the infamous motorcycle melee that took place in Manhattan last month, according to the NYPD.
Craig Wright, 29, was charged with gang assault, assault, and unlawful imprisonment.
Wright, the latest suspect arrested in connection with the melee, was crouched in the back of a squad car underneath a blanket as he headed for his arraignment.
Police on the scene at his Canarsie apartment where searching the bags of every person leaving the building, CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Wright was allegedly one of the men captured, in a recently released video, kicking and punching the victim while he lay helplessly on a Washington Heights street.
Earlier Monday, the biker who authorities said set off a chain of events that led to the melee between a group of motorcyclists and the driver of a Range Rover said the viral video of the incident doesn’t tell the whole story.
Christopher Cruz spoke publicly for the first time since he was arraigned last week on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment in connection with the Sept. 29 incident.
The 28-year-old admits he is the man seen in a YouTube video cutting in front of Alexian Lien’s Range Rover on the Henry Hudson Parkway and slowing down, forcing the SUV to bump his motorcycle’s rear tire — a move that police said sparked the confrontation between Lien and the bikers.
But speaking Monday on “Good Morning America,” Cruz insisted he was not brake-checking Lien.
“I don’t think I feel responsible, but I do feel badly for the family that got hurt,” Cruz said. “My intentions were never to make him stop.”
He claimed he was trying to change lanes and was looking over his shoulder to keep track of his fellow bikers, CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“I wanted them to pull in front so I could follow them,” he said. “I didn’t brake, but when I looked over my shoulder, my hand came off the throttle a little, but the driver didn’t slow down at all and bumped me.”
Watch The Full Video Below: WARNING — GRAPHIC IMAGES
After the collision with Lien, Cruz and other bikers stopped and approached the Range Rover, authorities said.
That’s when police said some of the bikers began damaging the SUV, hitting it with their helmets and slashing its tires, though it’s not clear from the video.
H. Benjamin Perez an attorney for Cruz questioned the reasons behind his client’s arrest.
“I think that they needed to make an arrest to satisfy the public. That’s what I think happened here,” he said.
Police said Lien, who was frightened and had his wife and 2-year-old daughter in the car, 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 was taken to the hospital after the attack, where he needed stitches to his face. His wife and child were unhurt.
Mieses broke both legs and suffered a spine injury that his family said will leave him paralyzed.
Over the weekend, two more suspects were arrested and charged in connection with the case.
Reginald Chance, 37, was arraigned Sunday on gang assault and other charges and is being held on $75,000 cash bail.
Authorities said he is seen on the YouTube video smashing the Range Rover’s window with his helmet just before Lien was dragged out, beaten and stomped.
Chance’s lawyer, Gregory Watts, acknowledged his client broke the window, but said Chance didn’t participate in the assault and said they will “hotly contest those allegations.”
“My client obviously overreacted in smashing the window, but beyond that, he was not a participant in any assault on that victim,” Watts said. “This is not a man riding around assaulting people with a quote-unquote ‘gang.”
In fact, Watts said Chance was struck by the SUV and said he was acting within his rights.
“The law does permit someone who is a victim of an accident to at least attempt to get the ID of the motorist,” he said.
Chance made an obscene gesture toward news cameras during his court appearance. Watts said his client is a married father of six who has been unemployed since a 2011 layoff from a food-service company.
Another rider accused of participating in the beating, Robert Sims, 35, of Brooklyn, was arraigned Saturday on charges including gang assault.
Police said Sims is seen in the video opening Lien’s driver’s side door in the middle of the Henry Hudson Parkway. His lawyer, Luther Williams, said Sims also denies the charges.
A fourth biker, Allen Edwards, was arrested after he surrendered to police last week, but was released without charges.
The motorcyclist who took the video, Kevin Bresloff, is cooperating with police and is not considered a suspect, his attorney said.
Lien has not been charged with any crime.
New video has also been released that shows several men kicking Lien as he lay helplessly on the ground. Good Samaritan Sergio Consuegra can be seen pushing them out of the way.
The NYPD also released photos of the two persons of interest who are wanted for questioning in connection with the case.
Meanwhile, police are questioning at least three off-duty police officers, including an undercover detective, who were part of the motorcycle group.
The undercover detective was there during the assault, but apparently did not intervene because he was fearful of revealing his identity, CBS News reported.
“On Wednesday of last week the undercover detective comes forward and says, ‘I was there, I saw the beating, I didn’t want to break my cover,’” CBS News senior correspondent John Miller said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “He’s assigned to the intelligence division and some of the people there are under deep cover and their training is, even under pressure, you don’t admit who you really are.”
It’s unclear if the other two off-duty officers also witnessed the beating. They have been placed on desk duty, pending an investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
Proposed Legislation Could Slow Down City Bikers
Packs of stunt bikers have caused problems in the city before.
In June a group of them roared of 3rd Ave. One of them struck a car being driven by City Councilmember Mellisa Mark-Viverito.
“It is really scary and in talking to police officers it really is a constant issue,” Mark-Viverito said.
The issue has come to the front and center of public attention following an afternoon of violent mayhem that was videotaped and went viral, CBS 2′s Tony Aiello reported.
“I think what happened on the West Side has shocked New Yorkers. It’s time for action, time to cut these guys off at the legs,” Councilman James Vacca (D) the Bronx said.
A new bill at the City Council would go after gas stations that sell fuel to riders with illegal and unregistered dirt bikes.
“And if we don’t have compliance after a period of outreach then there would be a fine schedule,” Vacca said.
Another proposal would ban large groups of riders unless they had a permit.
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