NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Weeks after video of a road rage attack in Manhattan by a bunch of bikers on the driver of an SUV went viral, a second undercover police officer has come forward.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, the officer said he was part of the motorcycle ride that ended with an attack on the driver of an SUV.
Matt Rodriguez, 28, told CBS News he was one of the motorcycle riders on that now infamous day.
Rodriguez is a plainclothes officer assigned to fight crime in the city’s subway system. He was recently assigned to an elite undercover unit in Internal Affairs, the New York Police Department unit that fights police corruption, CBS News reported.
Rodriguez told CBS News senior correspondent John Miller he had nothing to do with the attack on Range Rover driver Alexian Lien in front of his wife and 2-year-old child.
“How hard has this been going through this, especially with all the attention?” Miller asked Rodriguez.
“It has been difficult, but I can only take it one day at a time from now on,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is the second New York City undercover officer to come forward in the case.
Last week, Wojciech Braszczok, the first undercover New York City detective came forward. He was charged with assault, riot and criminal mischief after investigators said he lied about his role in the attack on the SUV.
At his arraignment last Wednesday, prosecutors also said Braszczok did not render appropriate assistance at the scene, failed to promptly report the attack at the scene, and misled investigators about his exact involvement.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said four officers were in the group of bikers.
“We believe we’ve identified all of the officers who may have ridden on that day,” Kelly said.
Pat Bonanno, the lawyer for Rodriguez, told Miller his client’s story checks out.
Bonanno said his client had fallen to the rear of the pack of bikers and did not see the confrontation. Rodriguez reportedly told investigators he took a different exit off the highway to visit his grandfather in a nursing home, so he was never even on the street where the final assault took place.
“Police Officer Matt Rodriguez voluntarily presented himself to the Manhattan district attorney’s office to answer any and all questions and concerns the had regarding his alleged involvement of the incidents of Sept. 29,” Bonanno said. “It appears that the district attorney’s office will discover, as we have known from day one, that there are no acts of criminality on behalf of Matthew Rodriguez.”
When asked how it felt to sit down with investigators and tell his side of the story, Rodriguez told Miller, “I was just glad to be given the opportunity to actually say my piece.”
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When asked if it was appropriate for police officers to be part of some motorcycle gang, Bonnano told Miller, “This is not a motorcycle gang. Frontline Soldiers was a small group of law enforcement individuals and former veterans. The NYPD itself has a motorcycle club, so he was part of an organization of other law enforcement individuals that he thought was involved in charitable organizations and charitable things.”
Rodriguez has not been suspended or put on modified assignment, Miller said on CBS This Morning.
However, prosecutors do want to know what contact he did or didn’t have with other officers before, during and after the assault.
The NYPD will also want to know why he waited so long to come forward, Miller reported.
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