Police release new photos in West Side Highway biker gang assault
The NYPD released photos Tuesday of four new bikers wanted in connection to the Sept. 29 West Side Highway biker gang assault.
Various videos showing them participating in the assault in some way, police said.
Initial police reports said Alexian Lien was surrounded by 20 to 30 bikers, but the criminal complaint in the latest arraignment related to this assault stated that Lien was attacked by five or six individuals when he lay prone on the ground.
So far, four people have been arraigned on felony charges of gang assault in connection with this incident.
Christopher Cruz, 28, was arraigned on Friday Oct. 4. Police allege that Cruz was the biker who could be seen on video veering in front of Lien’s Range Rover and slowing down seemingly intentionally while turned around facing Lien. Cruz is accused of intentionally causing the impact that kicked off the whole incident. Cruz has since claimed that he was turned around looking for his friends, and did not intend to cause the collision between him and Lien.
Robert Sims, 35, was arraigned on Saturday. A police source said the NYPD received an anonymous tip implicating Sims in the assault. Police matched Sims to a person interviewed on FOX 5 on Tuesday Oct. 1 who identified himself as “Guber Choper Williams.” In the interview, he had said he was the biker seen on video trying to open the driver’s side door after Lien had run over biker Edwin Mieses. Sims later told detectives the same story, police said, explaining that he wanted to take away Lien’s keys so Lien couldn’t drive away.
Sims at first claimed to detectives that by the time he got to West 178th Street, the gang assault on Lien was over.
But the criminal complaint from his arraignment Saturday says Sims confirmed to detectives that he is one of the five or six bikers seen in a photograph of a man crawling on the ground besides the Range Rover while two pedestrians stand over him with their arms outstretched protectively. According to the complaint, Sims confirmed that he was the biker in the photo wearing a grey backpack, black leather jacket and motorcycle helmet with the number 78 on it.
Police said that same biker can be seen in a video of the actual assault stomping on Lien’s head and body while wearing grey and white sneakers.
Police had also been on the hunt for the man seen on video using his helmet to smash through Lien’s driver’s side window, allowing several bikers to punch Lien through the window and eventually drag him from the car.
A police source said that man had been identified as Reginald Chance, 37, by Thursday Oct. 3. Chance had a lengthy rap sheet, including arrests for dealing drugs, violent robberies and weapons possession, all in Brooklyn. Police discovered he was unemployed and may have been in a drug program. He had no vehicles registered to his name, but they were able to locate the home of the mother of his six children. The 30-year-old woman told police she had been in a relationship with Chance since she was 14 years old.
The woman told police that Chance had come to her home around 8 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 2 and told her that he broke Lien’s window but didn’t assault anyone. She reportedly told him to turn himself in and that he wasn’t welcome in her home because of what he’d done. She also informed police he had been walking with a limp.
Chance was arrested Saturday, Oct. 5 and arraigned Sunday Oct. 6. Chance faced additional charges of weapons possession and criminal mischief for using his helmet to shatter the window.
In court on Sunday, Chance flipped off reporters, holding up both middle fingers.
The latest arrest was Craig Wright, 29, also from Brooklyn. He was arrested Monday Oct. 7 and arraigned Tuesday Oct. 8 on charges of gang assault stemming from a video that authorities say shows Wright punching Lien through the broken window as well as kicking or stomping on him twice as he lay prone on the ground.
The criminal complaints have all specified five or six bikers involved in the West 178th Street assault on Lien. Thus far, Wright and Sims are the only accused bikers who police specified were two of those five or six.
Recent reports have implicated an undercover detective in the incident. The detective reportedly only told his superiors he had been at the assault several days later. Police spokesman John McCarthy confirmed that an undercover detective was being investigated and had been placed on modified duty, forced to relinquish his badge and gun. It was previously believed that the cop had been present but not involved, though new reports claim a new video has surfaced showing the detective punching the SUV’s rear window. It is believed the cop drove off before the actual beating occurred.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat