$150,000 bond for motorcyclist charged in beating of SUV driver

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 10:00pm

A motorcyclist accused of gang assault and other charges in connection with the videotaped attack on an SUV driver was ordered held Tuesday on $150,000 bond.

Craig Wright, 29, is accused of stomping driver Alexian Lien at least twice after police say he and other motorcyclists forced the man's SUV to a stop, used their helmets to break out the Range Rover's window and dragged him out of the car.

According to court documents, police say Wright identified himself in a picture showing him standing near the stopped SUV. Another photograph shows him stomping Lien as the man lies on the ground, according to the documents.

Wright is charged with first-degree gang assault, first-degree assault and first-degree unlawful imprisonment. He was arrested at his home in Brooklyn, New York.

In addition to the bond, New York Trial Court Judge Tamiko Amaker set Wright's next court date for Friday.

In March, Wright pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office said. It is unclear whether he was driving with a suspended license at the time of the SUV incident.

He was also convicted in Virginia in 2005 for reckless driving.

He is the latest person to be charged in the case, which involves a group of motorcyclists on Manhattan's West Side Highway and Lien, who was driving the Range Rover along with his wife and small child.

Reginald Chance, who was captured on video smashing his helmet into an SUV window, has been charged with first-degree assault and gang assault. He was ordered held on $75,000 bond Sunday.

Assistant District Attorney Samantha Turino said Chance's license had been suspended and he should not have been driving. She said his arrest record includes a marijuana charge in 2013 and attempted criminal possession of a weapon in 2006.

Lawyers defend two motorcyclists

"The law does permit someone who is a victim of an accident to at least attempt to get the identification of the motorist," attorney Gregory Watts said. "My client obviously overreacted in that manner, but he is not this thug assaulting someone who's harmless, contrary to the public opinion that's being put out there."

He said Chance was knocked off his motorcycle by Lien's SUV after bikers had surrounded the vehicle earlier.

Christopher Cruz, 28, who police say is the biker who slowed in front of Lien, was charged with reckless driving and other misdemeanors. He was released on bond.

His lawyer, H. Benjamin Perez, said, "He never tried to assault him in any way. And he does not know any of the other motorcyclists who were involved in this beating."

Another biker, Robert Sims, is accused of stomping on Lien. He surrendered Friday on charges of attempted assault and gang assault.

The case became national news after video of the incident surfaced.

The video, captured by a motorcyclist's helmet camera, shows dozens of bikers swarming past him on Manhattan's West Side Highway. One motorcycle quickly slowed down in front of Lien, who bumped its rear tire, slightly injuring rider Christopher Cruz.

Lien pulled to a stop, and angry bikers surrounded his vehicle, hitting it and spiking its tires, police said.

Lien's vehicle plowed into three more bikers, including Edwin Mieses, whose wife says he is paralyzed.

The video shows the Range Rover stopping again long enough for a biker to open the door and Lien then driving away until traffic forced him to the final stop.

Police say the subsequent beating included kicks to Lien's head and body as he lay on the highway. Lien suffered two black eyes and cuts on his face and side, requiring stitches, a police detective's criminal complaint said.

His wife and daughter were unharmed.

Defenders of the bikers, including the relatives of one biker who was critically injured, have criticized Lien for driving through the crowd of motorcycles.

Investigation involves off-duty cops

At least two off-duty undercover police officers who were riding with the motorcyclists that day are being questioned by internal affairs, a law enforcement official told CNN.

One of the officers reportedly told internal affairs investigators that he didn't come forward for four days because he was reportedly afraid his cover would be blown. The officer has been assigned to desk duty. He has hired a lawyer, sources told CNN.

The officer was riding with his motorcycle club when the incident occurred and saw much of the confrontation, a law enforcement source told CNN on Friday.


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