It is the stuff of Hollywood movies: A family is out a Sunday drive when their SUV is surrounded by a pack of bikers, touching off a confrontation that leads to a wild chase, violence and injuries. In the latest scene to unfold Wednesday, an undercover NYPD officer will be arraigned in connection with the bikers' attack on the driver.
What could have been part of the plot of Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One” has turned out to be a real-life case of Manhattan road rage.
The arraignment of the officer and another suspect will bring to six the number of motorcyclists charged in the incident that occurred Sept. 29 when a biker slowed down and made contact with a Range Rover being driven by Alexian Lien, with his wife and their 2-year-old child as passengers. Lien took off, running over another motorcyclist, as the SUV fled up the West Side Highway. The chase ended four dozen blocks away on a Manhattan street with Lien being pulled from the car and assaulted.
One of those six was NYPD Officer Wojciech Braszczok, an off-duty undercover cop who had joined the motorcycle rally. He will be arraigned on charges including riot and criminal mischief, according to officials.
“As we said from the beginning of the investigation, the NYPD and the district attorney's office are methodically scrutinizing the evidence to build the strongest possible cases in our continuing effort to hold accountable those responsible,” said Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., in an email to reporters.
The first video of the of the incident, shot by a motorcyclist using a helmet cam, went viral from the moment it was posted. Police have gone back and found other photographic evidence, including a second video shot by a bystander in Washington Heights.
In the second video, a person said to be Braszczok is seen punching an already damaged back window, then twice kicking the side of the SUV before leaving the scene, according to a variety of sourced media reports published on local television websites and the Associated Press.
In addition to Braszczok, Clint Caldwell, a 32-year-old from Brooklyn, was also scheduled to be arraigned. He faces gang assault and other charges similar to those already brought against four other civilians. All of the cases are heading to a grand jury as well.
The incident has taken on a special piquancy because of the role of the police officers. NYPD internal affairs investigators began looking into Braszczok’s conduct because he didn't report having been at the rally until three days after the incident had blown up into a major problem.
According to media reports, Braszczok was one of three police officers on the ride in the general area of the attack.
Police have also released pictures of four other people they would like to talk to about the incident.