The family of Edwin Mieses, the biker injured in the West Side Highway altercation last weekend, is finally speaking out — and they insist their loved one has been unfairly maligned in the public eye.
The family has retained famed attorney Gloria Allred as their lawyer, and on Friday, Allred called a press conference to provide the "true facts" about what happened last Sunday when a mob of bikers attacked Alexian Lien.
Lien was driving in an SUV on the West Side Highway when he was surrounded by a crowd of bikers. The incident was caught on video: One biker can be seen veering in front of the SUV and slowing down, while turned around and staring at the SUV. Authorities have identified this person as Christopher Cruz. Cruz appeared in court Friday morning; the Manhattan District Attorney is pursuing criminal charges of reckless endangerment against him.
According to Allred, Mieses had in fact pulled over after seeing the SUV make impact with the bike, with the intention of defusing what was evidently escalating into a hostile situation.
Concerned for the safety of the driver, Allred said, and wary of an emotionally charged situation turning violent as other angry bikers stopped around the SUV, Mieses reportedly attempted to coax the other bikers into getting back on their bikes and continuing their ride.
Allred said Mieses' back was turned to the SUV when Lien "gunned the motor" and plowed into him.
She directed the public to review the video of the encounter and "watch that huge vehicle blast off and watch it as it is lifted several feet off the ground as it rolls over Edwin Mieses."
Allred said to her knowledge, Lien gave no warning and did not honk the car's horn to alert the people in front of him, including Mieses, before he tore off.
Lien's wife has said in a statement that she and her husband feared for their lives as the angry bikers approached their stopped SUV. Their 2-year-old daughter was in the car with them at the time.
Allred emphasized repeatedly that Mieses was also a father: He lives with his longtime partner of almost 17 years, Dayana Mejia, and their two daughters in Lawrence, Mass.
Mejia described Mieses as a loving partner and an exceptional father. She said Mieses picks their daughters up from school every day and spends every afternoon with them.
Mieses was woken from a medically induced coma two days ago, but Allred said he is still in a great deal of pain and doctors still don't know if Mieses will ever be able to walk again. His spine was broken in two places and he was left with several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a torn aortic valve.
Mejia and Allred both acknowledged the vitriol that has been directed at bikers in general since Sunday's violence, and the way that some have suggested Mieses drove recklessly and somehow brought his injuries on himself.
"I love him so much," Mejia said, breaking down into tears. "It tears me up that anyone could think that Edwin in any way deserves what happened to him."
And Allred urged the public to put aside "prejudices and biases" before passing judgment on Mieses.
"Whether one likes people who ride motorcycles is not the issue," Allred said. "Edwin Mieses is first and foremost a human being who was not doing anything wrong when he was run right over as though he was a rag doll."
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat