The New York Police Department is investigating whether some of its police officers were present when a pack of motorcyclists confronted an SUV driver last week in a case of road rage gone viral, a department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
The spokesman would not confirm media reports that as many as three off-duty officers were present during the Sept. 29 attack, in which one motorcyclist was apparently run over and bikers pulled the driver out of his SUV and assaulted him until a bystander came to the driver’s aid.
“What I can tell you is it’s under investigation by internal affairs,” said the spokesman, Sgt. Lee Jones, who declined to give any further details.
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former New York deputy police commissioner, reported that one of the three off-duty officers thought to be accompanying the bikers was a detective working undercover who was possibly afraid to blow his cover to break up the attack.
Miller hinted that the undercover officer might be in hot water after waiting four days after the attack to come forward to his superiors. According to the Associated Press, undercover officers are supposed to immediately report witnessing a crime.
Miller also reported that the other two officers were a sergeant and an undercover internal affairs detective who may face disciplinary measures of their own.
“Here’s the problem they’re going to face, which is whatever they did or didn’t do that day is one issue, but not coming forward right away actually could rise to official misconduct for hindering an investigation once they were aware of it, and that’s a potential criminal charge,” Miller said on CBS’ “This Morning” show on Monday.
At least three motorcyclists have been charged so far in the incident. The most recent was arraigned on Sunday, when biker Reginald Chance, 37, flipped off reporters with both hands in court.
Chance is charged with several felonies, including gang assault in the first degree and assault. Gang assault, under New York law, means causing serious injuries with the help of two or more people.
The driver of the SUV, Alexian Lien, 33, whom witnesses allege ran over and possibly paralyzed motorcyclist Edwin Mieses Jr. after the confrontation began, has not been charged.
Mieses’ family has since retained high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who has said that Mieses was just trying to defuse the incident before he was run over.
Video of part of the attack, taken by a motorcyclist, was uploaded online and has since received almost 7 million views.
The incident was reportedly under investigation by a grand jury.