Wojciech Braszczok, the undercover NYPD detective on trial for his part in the 2013 attack on a motorist by a horde of motorcyclists, took the stand in his own defense yesterday.

Braszczok was caught on video smashing out the rear window of a black Range Rover SUV and repeatedly kicking the vehicle while other bikers dragged the driver, Alexian Lien, out of the vehicle, kicking, stomping, and smashing his head with their helmets. But the detective's intentions were innocent as he and other bikers chased Lien, his wife, and their infant daughter up the West Side Highway and into Washington Heights, Braszczok testified. After watching Lien run over a motorcyclist while fleeing a confrontation with bikers on the highway, Braszczok said he simply wanted to persuade Lien to stop his vehicle to allow uniformed police to take control of the situation.

"Did you intend to hurt him?" Braszczok's lawyer, John Arlia, asked him. "Absolutely not," Braszcok answered.

Once the bikers ran the Range Rover to a stop on an uptown surface street, Braszcok testified that he dismounted his bike, and was walking around the rear to speak with Lien. Just then, he says, he heard a popping sound, and noticed a round, softball-sized hole in the rear windshield.

"I hear a bang, I see shattered glass and a hole in the rear window," Braszczok recounted. "At that split second, I thought it was coming to me.... I thought that I was getting targeted."

Braszczok's response to this stimulus was to start smashing out the rear window and round-house kicking the side of the SUV. "It's a reaction," he said. "It's not an intentional one."


After his attack on the vehicle, Detective Braszczok can be seen on a video (shown in court) returning to his bike, glancing at the bloody beatdown of Lien then unfolding on the street, and riding off.

"In my mind, the situation was unsafe, and I just left," he testified. "I wish I could have done more, but I already made the decision that I was going to leave. I wish that I could have done more to help the driver."

Brasczcok didn't call 911 to report the beating, but claims that as he rode off he called out to a pedestrian, urging her to do so.

"Is retreat part of police tactics?" Arlia asked him. "Yeah," Braszczok answered. "If you feel unsafe, you leave the scene, that's it."

In his cross-examination, District Attorney Joshua Steinglass expressed some skepticism about Braszczok's account. If Braszczok intended to persuade Lien to stop without revealing himself to be a police officer, why did he later tell a fellow officer that he chased the SUV intending to "take police action?" Braszczok answered that, as a police officer, even when he acts in a civilian capacity, it's still technically a "police action."

"So if you go into a 7-11, that's a police action?" Steinglass asked. Why had Braszczok never mentioned the pop and the hole in the glass that so alarmed him when he discussed the matter with friends and fellow officers? Why had he told fellow officers that the injuries he sustained smashing out the rear window were caused by flying glass? Braszczok answered that he couldn't remember his precise words in these conversations.

Braszczok testified that he couldn't see the infant girl in the back seat because the windows were tinted and, though he smashed out the back window, he didn't look through it. But could it really be that he didn't see another biker attempting to pull Lien's wife out of the vehicle, roughly two feet away from him, allegedly telling her "Bitch, you're going to get it too?" Steinglass asked. Braszczok said his focus at this point was singleminded. "My core concern is for me," he said. "So I'm leaving."

Steinglass also walked Braszczok through some of the more embarrassing aspects of his social media life to surface in the wake of his arrest. For a guy working undercover, Braszczok had incredibly poor OpSec hygiene. The same Twitter handle he used to tweet positively about the Occupy movement he was infiltrating also features tweets directed at the other undercover officers and at the Front Line Soldiers, the law-enforcement-dominated motorcycle club to which he belonged.

Braszczok also used the same handle, "evovillen," to post a comment on a real estate blog in which he identified himself as a cop. And Evovillen was the handle for his Photobucket account (since deleted), which featured photographs of numerous women, one of them evidently his wife, all of them looking distinctly unenthused about posing for him in states of undress. "I thought that was a private secure website. Like the cloud," Braszczok explained on the stand.

Steinglass turned his attention to Braszczok's text exchange with his NYPD handler prior to the 2013 motorcycle rally. Braszczok had told his handler he'd be attending the event, and predicted it would feature acts of lawlessness and "mayhem." When the handler berated him, Braszczok placated him, saying "I'm only kidding, man."

"Why did you lie to your handler?" the prosecutor asked. "So he doesn't worry that I might be in harm's way," Braszczok answered. "You had a good reason to lie," Steinglass offered. "Do you have a good reason to lie today?"

Braszczok never called 911 to get help for Lien, but after riding off, he did find time to call his wife and exchange text messages with other members of his motorcycle club. On their way home from the bike rally that afternoon, club members exchanged texts alerting each other about traffic problems in different parts of the city. "It's mayhem," Braszczok texted, echoing his earlier exchange with his handler. Later, as the group reflected on the day, he texted, "It was fun."

"What was fun?" Steinglass asked him.

"Nothing was fun," Braszczok answered.

Braszczok's cross-examination will continue on Thursday.