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October 9, 2013

NY undercover cop was 'participant' in biker melee

Lawrence man was critically injured when run over by SUV

NEW YORK (AP) — An undercover police detective participating in a motorcycle rally that descended into violence pounded on the rear window of an SUV while other bikers attacked the driver through his window, according to a criminal complaint today charging him with gang assault.

Wojciech Braszczok was an "active participant" in the attack on Alexian Lien's car two weeks ago following a chase up Manhattan's West Side Highway, prosecutors said. He did nothing to stop it, didn't report it to his superiors for two days, and then when did, he lied about it, changing his story to say he saw the attack but didn't participate, said Assistant District Attorney Samantha Turino.

"That is clearly not the case," Turino said. Law enforcement officials have said video from the scene shows the undercover officer participating.

The SUV driver was eventually pulled from his car and beaten on the street, police have said, though the undercover officer is not charged with attacking Lien.

Video shows riders swarming around the SUV before the driver takes off, crushing a rider beneath the car. Biker Edwin Mieses Jr. of Lawrence, broke his legs and suffered spine injuries that his family has said will leave him paralyzed.

Lien's wife has said he fled to protect her and their 2-year-old daughter. Lien hasn't been charged with any crime.

Braszczok, 32, who appeared in court sporting a beard and wearing a hooded sweatshirt and camouflage pants, was also charged with assault and criminal mischief. He was off-duty during the rally.

His lawyer, John Arlia, said the video actually exculpates his client, who was at least 12 feet from the attack on Lien, a married father of a toddler whose family was in the car at the time.

"This particular video in question exonerates my client — it is an absolute overcharge," he said. The SUV's back window already had a "gaping, softball-sized hole" in it, he said.

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