Official: Biker may have been trying to help the driver
(New York) CNN — For now, no one is charged in Sunday's attack on an SUV driver who was chased on Manhattan's West Side, dragged from his car by motorcyclists and beaten.
"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," said Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, chief of the trial division in the district attorney's office and the prosecutor who is overseeing the case.
On Wednesday, misdemeanor reckless endangerment charges against motorcyclist Allen Edwards were dropped. The 42-year-old biker had originally faced charges of reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and menacing, the New York City Police Department said.
But that didn't mean the prosecutors were done.
"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 Friedman-Agnifilo said 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 incident has drawn attention because much of it was captured in a video that shows Edwards just before the alleged assault.
Edwards is one of the bikers seen pounding on the windows of a Range Rover after it was forced to stop in traffic following a chase by bikers -- an account confirmed by a police official.
Edwards may have been trying to protect the driver of the SUV who had come under attack, a law enforcement official said.
If so, that may not be obvious in the video, which appears to have been shot by a biker, because it ends before the driver of the SUV is dragged from the vehicle, which also held his wife and 2-year-old daughter.
Edwards, who surrendered to police, is cooperating with authorities, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.
Police have said the driver, identified by a source with knowledge of the incident as businessman Alexian Lien, initially called 911 on Sunday afternoon to report that bikers were driving erratically on the West Side Highway.
Police say Lien sped off after allegedly accidentally hitting one biker, who had moved in front of his SUV and then slowed.
After the impact, as other bikers were chasing the SUV, Lien made several more 911 calls, an official said.
Investigators say Lien told them he feared for his life when bikers surrounded his vehicle, pounding on it and slashing his tires.
He stepped on the gas and hit three more bikers, injuring one of them -- Edwin Mieses -- critically.
"All of his ribs are fractured," Mieses' mother, Yolanda Santiago, told WBZ, "his lungs are so badly bruised that he's still on a ventilator."
Mieses' wife said he had been trying to help the first biker who was initially hit by the SUV when he too was hit.
His family has said he is paralyzed and in a coma.
Police said the biker group, called "Hollywood Stuntz," chased the driver, whose flat tires forced him to stop.
Cornered, Lien was beaten, police said. He was treated at a hospital for slashes to his face and released. Neither his wife nor his child was hurt.
Another biker, Christopher Cruz, 28, was in court Wednesday facing misdemeanor charges including reckless driving. Cruz's attorney told reporters that his client is not guilty.
He was to be released after posting $1,500 cash bail and a $15,000 insurance bond. In addition, his license was suspended and he was ordered to surrender his passport.