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NYC biker attack: Suspect appears in court

October 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A motorcyclist arrested in the violent confrontation between an SUV driver and a group of bikers has made his first court appearance.

Christopher Cruz, a 28-year-old man from Passaic, N.J., was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, endangering the welfare of a child and menacing.

During an arraignment hearing Wednesday, Cruz was granted bail of $1,500 cash. The judge ordered that his license be suspended and passport revoked.

The disturbing incident started when an SUV was boxed in by a group of motorcyclists on New York City's West Side Highway. In a clip anonymously posted on YouTube, a biker, believed to be Cruz, suddenly slowed down in front of the Range Rover, and the two collided.

The motorcyclists, 20 to 30 in all, came to a halt. Police say some of them started damaging the SUV. The 33-year-old SUV driver, Alexian Lien, accelerated to escape, running over 32-year-old cyclist Edwin Mieses.

The motorcyclists pursued the SUV for about 2.5 miles. The chase ended when Lien exited the freeway and got stuck in traffic. The video shows one biker using his helmet to smash the driver's window. Authorities say the driver was pulled from the vehicle and beaten in front of his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

Cruz's attorney, H. Benjamin Perez, said his client denied all the allegations and did not know the men involved in the assault on 174th street that was caught on a helmet-mounted camera worn by another biker.

"He will come back to fight this case and clear his name," he said.

Perez claimed that when Cruz's bike was hit, he stood right there waiting for police to file an accident report.

Police have not charged Cruz in connection with the assault.

The Manhattan district attorney's office decided not to immediately prosecute another man, identified as Allen Edwards, who turned himself in for questioning on Tuesday. A law enforcement source tells ABC News that Edwards could still be charged, and he is cooperating with investigators.

The incident is still being investigated, and the biker who cracked the driver's window is still being sought.

"We are taking Sunday's crimes extremely seriously, and will proceed with charges in a manner that enables us to build the strongest cases possible. Prematurely charging individuals with low-level crimes does not further the goals of the investigation, and could weaken the cases we expect to bring against the perpetrators of serious crimes," said Karen Friedman-Agnifilo of the Manhattan D.A.'s office in a statement. "After we investigate the facts and each person's individual actions, we will know what charges can be supported by the evidence. There is still a tremendous amount of investigation to be done."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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