The wife of a man beaten by a group of motorcyclists wept on the witness stand Tuesday as she recalled her family's car being set upon by angry bikers during a motorcycle rally that took over New York City streets.
Saying she “thought we were going to die,” Rosalyn Ng described how a pleasant drive descended into chaos and how bikers pulled her husband from the family SUV to beat him.
Ng was testifying in the trial of Wojciech Braszczok, 34, an undercover detective with the New York Police Department, and Robert Sims, 36, two of 11 men arrested after the Sept. 29, 2013, incident in Manhattan. The men, who are being tried together, are charged with assault and other crimes.
The assault was captured on video by a camera on one of the riders’ helmets and showed the SUV being driven by Alexian Lien, Ng’s husband, surrounded by motorcyclists. Lien eventually was dragged from the vehicle and beaten as his wife and young daughter were in the car. He testified earlier.
Unlike the brawl that left several people dead Sunday in Waco, Texas, the New York incident was not linked to motorcycle gang violence. But critics said the annual rally known as the Hollywood Block Party and advertised extensively on social media drew thousands of bikers to the city and set the stage for trouble by forcing cars and buses off the roads, flouting traffic laws, and with bikers driving on sidewalks.
Much of the rally was captured on cameras affixed to some riders’ helmets.
In her testimony, Ng described what started as a pleasant Sunday as she and her husband, who live in lower Manhattan, prepared to celebrate their wedding anniversary by driving to New Jersey for some shopping, to be followed by dinner out. They planned the drive to coincide with their toddler daughter’s nap time so she would sleep in her baby seat in the back of their Range Rover, said Ng.
As they left their apartment building and pulled into the street, the couple noticed “a lot more motorcycles than usual,” Ng testified. “The cars could barely move. “
After making little progress, the couple's frustration grew. Ng said she decided it was time to call 911 when she saw a woman with an infant strapped to her chest unable to cross a street because of the motorcycles “swarming” everywhere and not slowing to let pedestrians cross.
About the same time, she testified, one biker rode up to her family car and punched out the side mirror on the driver's side, apparently out of anger because her husband was not pulling over to let the riders pass. As tempers flared, Ng said, she tossed a plum out of the car, in frustration and in the hope of getting the bikers to stay away from the vehicle.
Instead, the altercation heated up.
“That's when everything kind of started,” she testified. Within seconds, the car was surrounded by bikers who squeezed between it and the car in front of it. “It singled us out,” Ng testified, describing motorcyclists gesturing angrily at the couple while trying to force the SUV to stop.
Ng then tossed a water bottle from the sunroof. At that point, one rider pulled in front of the SUV and slowed down quickly, forcing Lien to stop. The moment was caught on video and played in court.
Ng said motorcyclists quickly surrounded the stopped SUV and began pounding on it and threatening the panicked couple.
“You could feel the car shaking. They were screaming at us,” she testified. “They were saying things like ‘I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna get you.’”
“Alex asked me, what do I do? What do I do?” Ng recalled while wiping tears away. “My mind was on just getting out of there. We weren’t going to survive” otherwise, she said.
She said her husband turned the steering wheel to the right and stepped on the gas. Ng said she knew they had run over something but because of the Range Rover's high clearance, she couldn’t see what it was and assumed it was a motorcycle.
Other riders saw that it was one of their own and that he was badly injured -- both of his legs were broken and he suffered a spinal injury -- so they pursued the fleeing SUV, eventually surrounding it and forcing Lien to stop.
“I was screaming at them, ‘We have a baby, we have a baby, stop,’” Ng said. Video showed a biker smashing the driver’s side window with a helmet and another biker breaking the rear window with what appeared to be a club or knife handle.
Lien was dragged from the SUV. Ng said people grabbed one of her arms and her legs and tried to pull her out of the car, but she had her seat belt on. She managed to get her door closed and climbed into the back seat to check on their 2-year-old daughter, who was unhurt but covered with broken glass.
By then, bystanders had come to the family’s rescue and called 911. Even as people came to their aid and as her husband lay on the ground in a puddle of blood, Ng said motorcyclists continued to swarm past, some yelling threats.
“They were on the streets, they were on the sidewalks, they were everywhere,” she said.
Under cross -examination, Ng said she regretted tossing the plum and water bottle from the car, but she did not regret telling her husband to flee, even though he ran over a biker as he tried to escape.
“I still would’ve told him to go,” she said. “I thought we were going to die.”
Braszczok’s attorney has said he could not have aided the couple because he is an undercover cop and would have blown his cover. Outside of court, Braszczok put a T-shirt over his head to avoid having his face photographed.
Eleven men were indicted after the melee; the nine others have pleaded guilty to charges, including assault and riot, and face sentences of probation to two years in prison.
Braszczok was off duty when he participated in the rally. Prosecutors say he failed to do his duty as a police officer by reaching into a broken window on the SUV and then doing nothing to intervene as violence erupted.
If convicted, Sims and Braszczok each could face up to 25 years in prison.
Earlier Tuesday, a rally rider whose helmet camera made some of the video that led to arrests testified that riders pursued the SUV because they didn’t want it to escape after running down a biker.
“I just saw someone get run over,” the witness, Kevin Bresloff, testified. “I didn't want the Range Rover to get away,” said Bresloff of Long Island, a motorcycle mechanic and avid rider.
Bresloff said he did not take part in the assault, but video from another rider's helmet showed him near the SUV as it was being attacked.
Asked why he did not call police or hand his video over to law enforcement, Bresloff said he was frightened. He also said that he did not believe the couple was in danger, at least not until he saw Lien’s window get smashed in.
Bresloff also testified that instead of handing over any of his video to police, he posted it on YouTube to preserve computer space. By the next day, it had garnered thousands of views.
In addition to parts of the altercation, his video showed bikers roaring through city streets, speeding en masse through red lights and weaving among pedestrians on sidewalks.
Occasionally they could be seen slapping the tops of their helmets, a sign to warn other bikers that police were up ahead. Bresloff testified that some bikers were assigned to halt other vehicular traffic to clear all lanes for the motorcycles.
Though Bresloff did not have video of the bulk of Lien's attack, because, he said, his camera battery went dead, he testified that he saw much of it. “They pulled the gentleman out of the truck and punched him,” he testified about the moment when Lien was dragged onto the street.
Asked to describe in more detail what happened next, Bresloff said he did not see it. “I think I just looked away,” he said.
The trial opened Monday with testimony from Lien, who said he had feared for his life as the attack went on.
“Complete fear. For my life, for my wife's, for my daughter's,” Lien testified, weeping at times.
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