NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of an SUV driver who police said was attacked by a large group of bikers on the Henry Hudson Parkway says they were “faced with a life-threatening situation.”
The family of Range Rover driver Alexian Lien issued a statement Thursday via their attorneys.READ MORE: 'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' Wins Big As Broadway Celebrates The 74th Annual Tony Awards
Lien’s wife, Rosalyn Ng, said the couple was out to celebrate their wedding anniversary with their 2-year-old daughter on Sunday when they “were placed in grave danger by a mob of reckless and violent motorcyclists.”
“Our sympathies go out to the injured motorcyclist and his family,” Ng said. “However, we were faced with a life-threatening situation and my husband was forced under the circumstances to take the actions that he did in order to protect the lives of our entire family,” the statement said. “Our fear for our lives was confirmed when the incident ended with the ruthless and brutal attack on my husband, me, and, most importantly, our two-year-old child. We know in our hearts that we could not have done anything differently, and we believe that anyone faced with this sort of grave danger would have taken the same course of action in order to protect their family.
“We would like to thank the brave citizens who risked their own safety to intervene on our behalf. They truly helped save our lives and prevented my husband from suffering further injury. We also appreciate and are moved by the outpouring of love and support so many have expressed here in New York and around the country.”
The family asked that the public and the media respect their privacy as Lien continues to recover from his injuries.
The NYPD on Wednesday released new photos of the man they say is seen on a YouTube video of the incident violently bashing his helmet against the Range Rover and smashing the windows.
On Thursday evening CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported that police had identified the man and several other suspects and expected him to surrender within the next 24-hrs.
The new photos show the suspect from the back with his helmet on and another blurry shot of his face. Police said he had a flag sticker of Guyana on the rear of the motorcycle.
The only person criminally charged in Sunday’s encounter between the bikers and the SUV is Christopher Cruz.
The 28-year-old was arraigned Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment. His license was also suspended, and the judge ordered him to turn over his passport.
Authorities said Cruz touched off what eventually evolved into a bloody confrontation.
Police said Cruz is the biker seen on the video, shot by a helmet-mounted camera by a fellow rider, initially cutting off the SUV and braking hard, forcing Lien to rear-end him.
Watch The Full Video Below: WARNING — GRAPHIC IMAGES
Defense lawyer H. Benjamin Perez denied all the allegations.
“He’s going to fight the case, and I’m sure he will be successful,” Perez said.
On Thursday, police also released photos of two witnesses they are seeking for questioning.
Other bikers then surrounded 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, who was in the vehicle with his family, was frightened and took off. He allegedly ran over Edwin “Jay” Mieses, a cyclist from Massachusetts, who has since been hospitalized with critical injuries.
According to Massachusetts Registry records, Mieses was unlicensed and had been ticketed by police 16 times since 1999. His license was suspended until 2017 for being a habitual traffic offender, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
After being chased by the bikers for about two miles, the SUV exited the highway around West 178th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue and got stuck in traffic, police said.
That’s when one of the riders in the video is seen jumping off his bike and using his helmet to bash in the Range Rover’s driver’s side window.
At that point, the video ends, but police said Lien is pulled out of his car and beaten. He was taken to the hospital, where he needed stitches to his face. His wife and child were unhurt.
Investigators have questioned Lien and are looking to speak to as many of the bikers as they can. Police have questioned the man who videotaped the incident. He was not arrested, and authorities are still reviewing evidence.READ MORE: Police Seize 7 Vans Allegedly Used As Airbnb Rentals In Manhattan
Perez said Cruz had nothing to do with the attack against Lien. He said his client called 911 after the initial collision and remained on the scene.
One of the men seen on the video pounding on the SUV was Allen Edwards of Queens. He turned himself in and was initially charged, but on Wednesday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute for now.
“We are taking Sunday’s crimes extremely seriously and will proceed with charges in a manner that enables us to build the strongest cases possible,” Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, chief of the Trial Division that is handling the case, said in a statement. “Prematurely charging individuals with low-level crimes does not further the goals of the investigation.”
Meanwhile, bikers gathered in front of St. Luke’s Hospital on Wednesday night to show support for Mieses. They said the video does not show the whole story and argued that Lien was acting dangerously.
“All bikers are not violent. All bikers are not gang members. All bikers are not out there starting trouble,” said biker Jose, who was not on the ride.
Mieses’ wife, Dayana Mieses, said Tuesday that her husband was run over as the SUV fled and suffered broken legs and spinal injuries that will leave him paralyzed.
She said the bikers have been wrongly vilified in the incident and wants Lien to be held responsible for injuring her husband.
Some bikers who were on the ride also blame Lien and say the violence could have been prevented if he had not run from the scene. Lien has not been charged.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) is calling for police to crack down on the illegal biker gangs.
“They’re reckless; they’re a menace,” Espaillat said. “We’ve really got to be innovative and think about how we change the laws to disallow this from happening again.”
911 Calls Portray Frantic Situation
On Thursday night CBS 2 learned more about a series of frantic 911 calls made from inside of the SUV.
The first came from driver Alexian Lien as the vehicle was surrounded by motorcyclists on the Henry Hudson Parkway.
The next three calls were from his wife who was in the car along with the couple’s 2-year-old daughter.
She can be heard describing a desperate situation as the incident played out.
We are “being surrounded”, “being followed,” she told the operator.
During a final call from 178th Street, she told the dispatcher that the bikers were “attacking the car.”
It took emergency officials seven minutes to respond, their sirens can be heard in the background during the final 911 call.
In addition to 911 calls made by the family on Sunday, there were 200 calls made regarding bikers involved in reckless driving and making noise, CBS 2 reported.
The calls were placed between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Some callers reported that bikers were even riding on the sidewalk.
The NYPD told CBS 2 that aviation helicopters were deployed to identify groups of bikes to police being dispatched on the ground. Officers inspected 300 bikes and made 15 arrests as a result of complaints.
Police said their investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477, visit CrimeStoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
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