Grand Jury Indicts 2 In Motorcycle Melee, Including Suspect Seen Smashing SUV Window
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The biker who authorities said was caught on video smashing the driver’s side window of an SUV in a motorcycle road rage incident last month has been indicted by a grand jury.
Reginald Chance was released on bond Friday. The charges haven’t yet been disclosed.
Chance, 37, was arraigned Sunday on gang assault and other charges. Authorities said he is seen on YouTube video smashing the Range Rover’s window with his helmet just before the driver, Alexian Lien, was dragged out and beaten.
Chance’s lawyer has said they will “hotly contest those allegations.” He is due back in court on Oct. 30.
The second defendant indicted Friday, Craig Wright, quickly left court and got in a waiting car. He is also accused in the assault, CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported. On Tuesday, the 29-year-old was arraigned on charges of gang assault and unlawful imprisonment.
Prosecutors said Wright punched Lien through a broken window and then joined in stomping him on the street after he was pulled out of his Range Rover.
“We’ve pled not guilty and made no comment with respect to those issues,” attorney Mitchell Elman said.
Meanwhile, undercover NYPD detective Wojciech Braszczok, who is accused of being a key player in the attack, has opted to testify before a grand jury in February.
Braszczok is one of at least three NYPD officers who were part of the motorcycle group on Sept. 29.
Prosecutors said Braszczok lied when he said he didn’t witness the assault. Video has surfaced showing him punching out the back window, they said.
His lawyer says Braszczok never came in contact with Lien or his family and took no part in the assault.
Another suspect, Clint Caldwell, also made a court appearance Friday where he, too, decided he would testify before a grand jury. That proceeding is set for next week.
Caldwell was arraigned Wednesday on charges of assault and gang assault. Police said Caldwell pulled Lien from the SUV. His attorney said prosecutors were mistaking his client for another biker.
“He’s already pled not guilty and quite frankly he was a bystander,” his attorney Raymond Colon said. “He was a citizen who observed, what appeared to be, a Range Rover, running over motorcyclists.”
“My client eventually does catch up to the crowd and stands by the vehicle, but he does not try to enter the vehicle, does not try to punch or assault any individuals in the vehicle,” Colon told CBS 2’s Grymes.
On Thursday, a seventh biker was arraigned in the case.
James Kuehne was released on $200,000 bond after being charged with gang assault and other offenses. He didn’t enter a plea.
Defense lawyer Joseph Mure Jr. says Kuehne has worked as a plumber for 13 years. He said there is evidence that will exonerate his client.
“I promise you as this case goes on, we’re going to hear things that took place that are a lot different from what’s on that video,” Mure said. “Things are not always what they seem to be.”
Nearly two weeks later, some bikers are suggesting Lien, knowingly or not, instigated the confrontation off-camera earlier by clipping one of the bikes in a rally on the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Investigators are looking for other helmet-camera videos of the ride, which spurred 911 calls about the bikers’ behavior before Lien’s beating.
Attorney Gloria Allred, representing Edwin Mieses Jr., the biker who was crushed, claims Lien bumped another motorcycle while changing lanes on the highway two to three miles before his SUV knocked into biker Christopher Cruz.
“We have evidence that he hit that (first) bike and didn’t stop,” Allred said by phone.
Mieses, of Lawrence, Mass., didn’t see any earlier encounter but got off his motorcycle to defuse the tense situation and was headed back when he was hit from behind by the SUV, she said.
He broke his legs and suffered a spine injury and likely is paralyzed, his family has said.
Video of the encounter that was recorded on a helmet-mounted camera and later posted on YouTube begins with Cruz pulling in front of the black Range Rover and decelerating to the point where the vehicle bumps his back tire.
Watch The Full Video Below: WARNING — GRAPHIC IMAGES
The video then shows riders swarming around the SUV. Police said some began damaging the Range Rover, hitting it with their helmets and slashing its tires, though it’s not clear from the video.
Lien, who was in the car with his wife and 2-year-old child, takes off, running over Mieses. Lien’s wife said they had no other choice but to flee.
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.
Robert Sims, one of the first bikers arrested and charged in the case, was indicted Thursday and remains behind bars. Police said Sims is seen in the video opening Lien’s driver’s side door in the middle of the Henry Hudson Parkway.
His attorney Luther Williams is blasting the prosecutor for not charging Lien for running over Mieses as he tried to get away.
“We seem to be forgetting the fact that the SUV ran someone over,” Williams said. “I don’t know if we realize that the prosecutor could just have easily charged him.”
Cruz, 28, was arraigned last week on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment.
Since his arrest, he has insisted he looked over at the driver only to change lanes and didn’t deliberately slow down. He didn’t see any prior interaction that may have happened between the SUV and the motorcyclists, said his attorney, H. Benjamin Perez.
Cruz waited on the highway for police when other riders chased after Lien, Perez said.
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