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October 3, 2013

Amid probe, 1 arraigned in N.Y. motorcycle-SUV road rage incident

NEW YORK — A motorcyclist accused of touching off what evolved into a bloody confrontation between an SUV driver and a throng of bikers was charged yesterday with reckless driving while investigators searched for key players in the driver’s beating.

Investigators and prosecutors, who held off charging another person, faced the task of trying to track down and talk to dozens of helmet-clad motorcyclists seen in an online video of the encounter.

The confrontation spiraled from a minor collision between a motorcycle and the SUV into the car plowing over a biker and fellow riders surrounding, chasing and attacking the driver, authorities said.

The only person criminally charged in Sunday’s encounter is Christopher Cruz, who was arraigned on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment. Police and prosecutors said Cruz, of Passaic, N.J., was the biker who initially cut off the SUV, which then bumped his motorcycle’s back tire.

Defense lawyer H. Benjamin Perez said Cruz didn’t try to trap or assault the driver and denied all the allegations.

“He’s going to fight the case, and I’m sure he will be successful,” Perez said.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney’s office decided to not immediately prosecute a second arrested person, Allen Edwards, who surrendered on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said they were continuing to look into the entire incident, and they told a judge they intend to take the case against Cruz to a grand jury, signaling that more charges are likely.

“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,” prosecutor Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said, adding there was “still a tremendous amount of investigation to be done.”

Investigators have questioned the SUV driver and are looking to speak to as many of the bikers as they can, including the one whose helmet-mounted camera recorded the events.

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