As many as six motorcyclists were involved in the beating of an SUV driver following a wild chase along the west side of Manhattan, according to charges filed when a new suspect was arraigned on Tuesday.
Craig Wright, 29, of Brooklyn, was arraigned on charges including gang assault, assault and unlawful imprisonment and held in lieu of a $150,000 bail bond. He is the fourth motorcyclist to be charged in the attack and the third to be accused of dragging the driver, Alexian Lien, out of his SUV and beating him. Wright is scheduled to return to court on Friday to allow time for the grand jury to look at the charges.
On Sept. 29, Lien, his wife and their 2-year-old child were in a black Range Rover traveling on a west side highway when a motorcyclist slowed down and came in contact with the vehicle. The group slowed down and then Lien sped up the highway with the bikers in pursuit. The SUV ran over at least one motorcyclist, who was injured, according a video of the incident shot by another motorcyclist.
Eventually, a group of motorcyclists caught up with Lien, who left the highway and stopped at an intersection. Motorcyclists in the group attacked the vehicle and, according to police, pull Lien from the SUV and beat him.
Lien sustained “lacerations to his face above each eye and right cheek that required multiple stitches and lacerations to the left side of his body that required multiple stitches, two black eyes, abrasions on his hands, back and right shoulder, and lacerations on his lip,” according to the criminal complaint filed with the court.
The complaint lays out the events on the video, which has gone viral. There is also other photographic evidence and at least one female informant who talked with investigators and corroborated the events as recorded in the video, according to the complaint.
A police investigator says in the complaint that the evidence shows “approximately five to six individuals surround said driver while he's on the ground and strike at said driver with their helmets, kick, and stomp on said driver's head and body while he's lying on the ground. I observed that said individuals were wearing boots and sneakers. Specifically, I observed a male wearing a black helmet with spikes, sunglasses, dark-colored sweatshirt with the number 13 on the back, and blue and white sneakers stomp on said driver at least twice while said driver was lying on the ground.”
In an interview with Wright, “the defendant identified himself as the man wearing a black helmet with spikes, dark colored sweatshirt, and sunglasses,” the complaint states.
Officials in New York would not directly comment on how many others they were seeking in the case.
On Sunday, Reginald Chance, 37, was arraigned on several charges in the attack, including gang assault. Prosecutors said that he hit the car with his helmet and broke a window. Prosecutors also charged Robert Sims, 35, over the weekend with gang assault and other charges for allegedly jumping on Lien’s head and body.
Another motorcyclist, Christopher Cruz, 28, was charged last week with reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment. Cruz is said to be the motorcyclist seen slowing down in the video and causing the initial contact with the SUV.
Still hospitalized is Edwin Mieses Jr., 32, who sustained serious back and leg injuries when he was run over by the SUV, according to family and lawyer Gloria Allred.
The local TV program “Good Day New York” on Tuesday aired an interview with one of the bikers, Louis Castaldo, who said the video of the incident seen by millions of people does not tell the whole story. He said that before the situation escalated into violence, Lien, 33, had hit a rider as the group cruised in unison up the busy road.
“When the video starts, we're trying to attempt to slow him down to tell him, 'Hey, there was an incident back there,'” Castaldo said. “As we're approaching the window to talk to him and explain what just happened ... he then decides to run over three or four more people, which is when things escalated.”
Castaldo said he did not condone the violence but said Lien should have stopped after the first incident.
“If he'd just apologized and stopped and said 'I'm sorry,' we would have probably forgiven him,” he told “Good Day New York.”
Meanwhile, questions continued to be raised about the role of undercover New York police officers who may have witnessed or even participated in the motorcyclists’ ride. The Associated Press reported that two people familiar with the case say investigators have video evidence of an off-duty NYPD undercover detective pounding on the SUV during a melee with motorcyclists. The officer’s lawyer on Monday said that the detective only witnessed other bikers attacking the vehicle.
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