The NYPD has arrested a second man in connection with the motorcycle mob assault caught on video Sunday afternoon in upper Manhattan. But the driver of the Range Rover, who plowed through a group of bikers, seriously injuring one, is not expected to face criminal charges. According to a number of retired law enforcement officers and bodyguards interviewed by the Times, that's because he did what he had to do to protect his family.
"You have the right to defend yourself, by hook or by crook," former NYPD sergeant and FBI agent Manuel Gomez told the Times, pointing out that the motorcyclists vastly outnumbered the driver and his family, and had "superior weapons, because they were using their helmets. All he’s got is a cellphone and a vehicle. Take them out. Whatever you have to do. Figure it out later."
The driver, Alexian Lien, did just that, but the bikers finally cornered him up in Washington Heights, beating him severely in front of his wife and young daughter. Yesterday the NYPD arrested Christopher Cruz, 28, of Passaic, N.J., charging him with reckless driving, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and menacing. Cruz is the biker seen in the video slowing down in front of Lien's car. They soon collided, and then Lien sped off when the bikers began pounding on his vehicle, damaging a side view mirror.
According to another article in today's Times:
Detectives were looking into the possibility that the motorcyclists involved in Sunday’s episode had been trying to clear cars from the parkway — in an effort to perform tricks and ride unencumbered — when they encountered the Range Rover. The video appears to show motorcyclists at entrance ramps, possibly in an effort to block oncoming vehicles.
Such tactics are not uncommon among large groups of motorcyclists in and around New York, the authorities said. “We see an increase in the number of groups who will take over the entire highway for the purpose of slowing it down to allow others to race in front of them,” said Maj. Michael Kopy of the New York State Police.
Reckless dirt bike and motorcycle riders are a frequent problem in New York City, and the NYPD seems powerless to do anything about. One law-enforcement source tells the Post that officers have been ordered not to chase after large biker groups, because of the risk to civilians.
A second biker, Allen Edwards, who turned himself in to police yesterday was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and menacing. Investigators believe that Edwards was the one seen on video banging on the Range Rover's rear driver's side window with his fist, moments before the video cuts out. Edwards's precise role in the assault is unclear, and now the Post is reporting that the Manhattan DA is not going to prosecute him.
Edwin Mieses, Jr.
Meanwhile, Edwin Mieses Jr., who was run over by Lien after the first collision, remains hospitalized and may never walk again. “There’s no hope for his back,” his wife, Dayana Mieses, told reporters yesterday. “They crushed his spine. They broke it in two different places, so he will be forever, forever paralyzed."
"Everyone wants to blame the bikers for something this man did,” Mieses added, arguing that Lien should also face charges. "When all the bikers stopped, my husband got out, parked his bike to walk over to try to help his friend. He walked over towards the front of the vehicle when, at this point, I don’t know what happened: the man was scared, the man just peeled off and ran over my husband."
At a press conference yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly indicated that Lien could be charged, but judging by his comments (and the NYPD's track record of not charging motorists) it seems unlikely Lien will be prosecuted. "Well, it depends on what the circumstances are,” Kelly told reporters. “It depends on whether or not your vehicle is being attacked, whether or not you think you’re being attacked, whether or not your wife and child’s in the car. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances, and that’s what we’re doing."
One of the bikers seen in the video gave an anonymous interview to Fox 5, arguing that he's the victim. "As he took off, he hit me and just kept on going," that biker said. "Once he hit me off my bike I got angry and I chased after him. Two minutes prior to that this guy almost took my life from me and I'm the aggressor because I smashed the window."
The NYPD expects more arrests to be forthcoming.