NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An off-duty police detective has been arraigned on upgraded charges alleging he participated in the gang assault of a sport-utility vehicle driver last week in Manhattan.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, Detective Wojciech Braszczok was seen on video as he was escorted from court Wednesday afternoon with a hood covering his face. He was released on $150,000 bail.
The charges against Wojciech Braszczok were much more serious than the police initially said, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted on all the counts.
Like some of the other bikers, Braszczok has been charged with assault, gang assault and criminal mischief, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Prosecutors said Braszczok forgot his duty to serve and protect. They said the off-duty detective was an active participant in the mob of motorcyclists chasing and terrorizing SUV driver Alexian Lien and his family.
Prosecutors also said Braszczok did not render appropriate assistance at the scene, failed to promptly report the beatdown at the scene, and misled investigators about his exact involvement.
A judge on Wednesday allowed audio recording in court, but no video cameras.
Assistant District Attorney Samantha Turino told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Tamiko Amaker that witness video showed Braszczok joining in on the attack on the SUV.
“Much of what I have described, your honor – including this assault – was captured on video in what can only be described as a brutal and brazen attack on the driver and his family, in which this defendant is an active participant,” Turino told the judge. “This defendant also did nothing to stop it, including not calling 911.”
Turino claimed while some of the bikers were pulling Lien out of the SUV, Braszczok “is on video breaking the rear window of the SUV and causing it to shatter.”
He was also seen kicking the passenger-side rear door in the window area several times, Turino alleged.
“It should be noted, your honor, that the 2-year-old child of the complainant was in the back seat at the time,” the prosecutor told Judge Amaker.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, a photo from the scene showed Braszczok riding alongside Lien’s SUV. But Braszczok’s lawyer, John Arlia, said video evidence proves he never got within 12 feet of the victim and broke an already broken window of the SUV.
“His activity in that video depict him never have coming in contact with Mr. Lien, touching him, and in no way having the intent of anyone that would have hurt him or intended to hurt him,” Arlia said.
But prosecutors said the video shows Braszczok “continues to terrorize the family” as he chased the SUV and repeatedly hit the passenger window and door.
Arlia said this was a mischief case but became an assault case because he’s a NYPD detective, Silverman reported.