An undercover New York police officer was arraigned Wednesday on charges including gang assault in connection with an attack on an SUV by a group of motorcyclists, one of seven bikers to be arrested in the road rage attack that has shocked the city and drawn national headlines.
Wojciech Braszczok, 32, was an “active participant” in the attack on Alexian Lien's Range Rover on Sept. 29, prosecutors allege. He was charged with gang assault, assault and criminal mischief. He posted a $150,000 bail bond and was released.
The incident began on Manhattan's West Side Highway when a motorcyclist slowed down and made contact with Lien in his SUV with his wife and their 2-year-old child. After the encounter, the group of bikers surrounded the black SUV and Lien took off, running over biker Edwin Mieses Jr. who remains hospitalized with spinal injuries and broken legs.
Lien then headed north on the highway and the motorcyclists gave chase. The bikers caught up with him on a city street in the Washington Heights neighborhood. According to two videos, one of which went viral, a group of motorcyclists attacked the SUV.
The criminal complaints against Braszczok alleges that he struck “the rear window of the Range Rover with his fist while wearing motorcycle gloves, thereby breaking said window.” The defendant is also accused of kicking the passenger side of the SUV.
The complaint alleges that a group of five or six motorcyclists then beat Lien. But the complaint noted that Braszczok is not among that group.
The officer’s lawyer said in court that the video is favorable to his client. “This particular video in question exonerates my client. It is an absolute overcharge,” he said in the courtroom, according to the Associated Press. The SUV's back window already had a “gaping, softball-sized hole” in it, the lawyer maintained.
Braszczok initially told authorities that he had left the scene without getting involved, in part because he did not want to blow his cover as a police officer.
Also arraigned Wednesday was Clint Caldwell, a 32-year-old motorcyclist from Brooklyn. Caldwell was charged with gang assault and assault, similar charges to those faced by four of the other bikers. Christopher Cruz, the biker who was accused of making the initial contact with the SUV, was charged with misdemeanors including reckless driving.
Caldwell is accused of pulling out the glass from the SUV’s side window and then reaching inside the SUV and making contact with the driver. He was held in lieu of $150,000 bail bond.
[For the Record, 3:57 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. PDT Oct. 9: On Wednesday evening, a seventh motorcyclist was taken into custody. James Kuehne of Brooklyn surrendered to police and faces charges of gang assault, assault, criminal mischief and criminal possession of a weapon. In addition, the spelling of Wojciech Braszczok's last name has been corrected; it was misspelled as Braszczock in two instances.]
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