The West Side Highway biker gang assault: A timeline
Sunday, Sept. 29
Alexian Lien’s wife calls 911 for the first time to report aggressive bikers surrounding them on the West Side Highway. Moments later, the SUV makes contact with a biker who police later say is Christopher Cruz, 28. This moment and the following several minutes are captured on video by a camera mounted on a biker’s helmet.
Lien, 33, stops and several bikers dismount and start attacking the car. Lien tears off, running over Edwin Mieses, 32, a biker from Lawrence, Mass., who has two young daughters. According to his attorney, Gloria Allred, Mieses’ spine was broken in two places and he also suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung and a torn aortic valve. Allred has maintained that Mieses had pulled over and dismounted from his bike in order to urge the other bikers to keep moving and leave Lien alone.
Lien is forced to exit the highway around West 178th Street when his tires go flat, possibly due to damage done to the car by the crowd of bikers. He pulls over and two bikers dismount and approach the car. One, later identified by police as 37-year-old Reginald Chance, bashes the driver’s side window repeatedly with his helmet, smashing it. The other, later identified as Allen Edwards, is seen punching the SUV before the helmet-cam video cuts.
Law enforcement officials maintain other video footage shows the actual attack, in which Lien was reportedly pulled out of the car and beaten by five or six bikers before two pedestrians intervened.
Police have been able to identify Lien’s assailants using a photograph that showed Lien crawling on the ground beside the Ranger Rover while two pedestrians stood over him with their arms outstretched protectively.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat, whose district spans Upper Manhattan and the entire West Side Highway, said he was informed that some bikers had wanted to pull Lien’s wife from the car as well.
Lien is transported to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and treated for two black eyes. Wounds on his face and body required stitches.
A witness follows the bikers to a Shell gas station at 181st and Amsterdam.
Police said the bikers were in town for a yearly Hollywood Stuntz ride. Chaos from the same Hollywood Stuntz ride last year prompted the NYPD to set up checkpoints at bridges and tunnels into Manhattan this year. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said this year 15 people were arrested, 55 motorcycles were confiscated and 69 summonses were issued in connection to the Hollywood Stuntz ride.
Monday, Sept. 30
The helmet cam video showing most of the lead-up to the attack is posted to liveleak.com and goes viral.
Police pull separate video from the Shell gas station on 181st and Amsterdam as part of their investigation.
They put out a request for public assistance locating two suspects in connection with the attack, including one person with a Guyanese flag sticker on the back of his bike, who police said was the biker who smashed Lien’s driver’s side window, and another on a white motorcycle, who police said punched Lien’s Range Rover multiple times.
Police accused both bikers of pulling Lien from his car and participating in the violent assault.
Tuesday, Oct. 1
Around midday, Allen Edwards, identified by police as the suspect on the white motorcycle, turns himself in. Police arrest and charge him with assault.
Fox 5 interviews a biker identified as “Guber Chopper Williams” who says he was the one who tried to yank open the driver’s side door after Lien ran over Mieses.
Wednesday, Oct. 2
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office declines to prosecute Edwards “pending further investigation of the entire incident.”
The chief of the D.A.’s Trial Division, Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, elaborates later: “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. 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.”
Police identify Robert Sims, 35, as the man from the Fox 5 interview who had said his name was “Guber Chopper Williams.” Detectives interview Sims and he confirms their suspicions, explaining that he only wanted to take Lien’s car keys so Lien couldn’t drive away after injuring Mieses. He claims that by the time he got to West 178th Street, the assault was over.
The investigation into Sims reveals that he has a green 2000 Kawasaki registered in his name and was arrested in Harlem the day after Christmas in 1998 for possession of a loaded gun and a Samurai sword. He spent the following eight months in jail, his only known period of incarceration.
His only other arrest was for stealing a car in Brooklyn in 2002, though he also had an arrest warrant open for failing to respond to a criminal court summons, also in Brooklyn, in 2010.
Police get a warrant and seize video footage and equipment from the Bellport, N.Y. home of 37-year-old Kevin Bresloff, after a caller to their Crime Stoppers hotline tips them off that Bresloff was the biker whose helmet cam captured the viral video of the lead-up to the assault. The video had at that point been posted several times under variations of the usernames “Michelin Man” and “Goper 2900.”
Metro reveals the identity of Hollywood Stuntz, the organizer of the race the bikers were in town for, according to police. He is Jamie Lao, a Brooklyn-based stunt biker.
Bikers hold a vigil outside St. Luke’s Hospital, where Mieses remains in a medically induced coma.
Thursday, Oct. 3
By Thursday police had identified who they believed to be the biker who smashed in Lien’s window with his helmet: Chance, 37. Chance had a lengthy rap sheet that included arrests for dealing drugs, violent robberies and weapon possession, all in Brooklyn.
Police located the home of the mother of Chance’s six children, a 30-year-old woman who told police she had been with Chance since she was 14 years old. She told police that Chance, who was walking with a limp at the time, had come to her home the night before around 8 p.m. and told her he smashed the window but didn’t assault anyone. She said she kicked him out of the house and told him to turn himself in.
Lien’s wife releases a statement through their attorneys, insisting that she and her husband feared for their lives and the safety of their 2-year-old daughter. They were celebrating their wedding anniversary that day, she says.
Friday, Oct. 4
Sims is arrested.
Cruz is arraigned in criminal court. Cruz is accused of veering in front of Lien’s Range Rover and intentionally slowing down to cause the collision that kicked off the whole dispute. Court documents allege he is the biker who could be seen on video riding turned around and apparently staring at Lien.
Allred holds a press conference with the wife and father of Mieses, the biker who Lien ran over. Mieses has been brought out of his medically induced coma but is still in a great deal of pain. Allred emphasizes that Mieses was a family man and insists his only intention was to help Lien.
The New York Post breaks the story that an off-duty undercover cop was present at the assault. He reportedly did not inform his superiors he was at the scene of the assault until Wednesday night, days after the assault took place.
Saturday, Oct. 5
Chance is arrested.
Sunday, Oct. 6
Chance is arraigned in criminal court. He flips off reporters at the court room, displaying both middle fingers.
Monday, Oct. 7
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information John McCarthy confirms an undercover detective is being investigated. The detective was placed on modified duty and gave up his gun and badge while the Internal Affairs Bureau investigated the incident.
Craig Wright, 29, is arrested. Police say Wright is the biker seen on video punching Lien through the broken window, and kicking or stomping on him twice when he lied on the ground after being pulled out of the car.
Wright has a record, including three auto insurance claims against him for injury or property damage.
Lao, aka Hollywood Stuntz, finally speaks to the press, doing a video interview with Global Grind. He claims he had canceled the bike ride last minute due to overwhelming pressure from the NYPD. He sends Metro a link to the interview in lieu of response for a week-old email. He does not respond to a second request for an interview, and the NYPD does not respond to queries attempting to confirm the claims Lao makes in the interview.
Tuesday, Oct. 8
Wright is arraigned in criminal court, becoming the fourth suspect to face prosecution in connection with the assault.
The NYPD releases four new photos of people wanted for questioning in connection to this assault.
The identity of the off-duty undercover detective is revealed: Detective Wojciech Braszczok, 32, is arrested and charged with gang assault, riot and criminal mischief. Braszczok is a 10-year veteran on the force. He was suspended without pay upon his arrest.
The Detectives Endowment Association, the NYPD detectives’ union, previously spoke in defense of Braszczok. As of Tuesday, union president Michael Palladino said “with the recent development,” the union won’t be commenting.
Another civilian is also arrested: Clint Caldwell, 32. Caldwell is the seventh person to be arrested in connection with this incident.
Wednesday, Oct. 9
Caldwell and Braszczok are arraigned in Manhattan criminal court. Braszczok is accused of smashing Lien’s rear window with his gloved fist, and kicking the passenger side of the Range Rover while Lien’s wife and baby daughter were inside. Caldwell is accused of being one of the bikers seen rushing at Lien’s car before he was pulled out and thrown to the ground. Prosecutors say he pulled broken glass out of the broken driver’s side window and reached in and roughed up Lien while he was still inside.
Attorneys for both men insist that video evidence actually disproves prosecutors’ claims. Prosecutors note that Braszczok was not one of the five or six bikers seen beating up Lien as he lay prone on the ground beside his Range Rover.
Braszczok leaves the courthouse entirely bundled up in a hoodie and with his face covered.
James Kuehne, 31, is arrested and charged with criminal mischief, gang assault and rioting. He is the eighth person arrested in this case.
Thursday, Oct. 10
James Kuehne is arraigned in Manhattan criminal court. Prosecutors finger Kuehne as one of the five or six bikers who kicked and stomped Lien as he lay on the ground next to his SUV. Kuehne is also accused of using his helmet to smash the Range Rover’s driver’s side rear tailgate window. Kuehne is the seventh person to face charges in this case. He will next appear in court on Feb. 20, 2014 to face a grand jury.
A grand jury votes to indict Sims. Specific charges will be outlined when he next appears in court on Oct. 30.
Murray Weiss at DNAinfo.com reveals the identity of an Internal Affairs Bureau officer who was also allegedly present at the biker assault.
Friday, Oct. 11
Wright and Chance are indicted in Manhattan criminal court. They are the second and third arraignment in this case, follow Sims’ indictment the day before. All three defendants are scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 30.
Broszczok and Caldwell inform the court they wish to testify in front of the grand jury, postponing any potential indictment. They both posted bail. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2014.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat