Charges upgraded for cop in biker melee
Related mediaImages from the NY biker melee
An NYPD undercover detective on a red Yamaha motorcycle was "an active participant" in the videotaped Manhattan road rage attack, prosecutors said Wednesday as the officer faced new assault charges at his arraignment.
Wojciech Braszczok, 32, of Queens, was charged with first-degree gang assault and first-degree assault, on top of his criminal mischief charge during a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court.
In addition to the detective, Clint Caldwell, 32, of Brooklyn, was arraigned Wednesday on felony charges of gang assault and assault in the first degree a day after his arrest. And a sixth man James Kuehne, 31, of Bensonhurst, was arrested Wednesday by the NYPD in connection with the melee.
Braszczok, an undercover detective with an NYPD intelligence division, took part in the Sept. 29 assault of the driver of a Range Rover SUV, Alexian Lien, 33, prosecutors said. Lien was dragged from the vehicle in Upper Manhattan and beaten, police said.
The assault came at the end of a confrontation on the West Side Highway that followed a ride by a motorcycle group. One of the motorcyclists was run over during the chase and several others have been arrested.
Braszczok was arrested and charged with riot and criminal mischief Tuesday. The detective punched the sport utility vehicle's back window and kicked the passenger side of the vehicle instead of calling for help, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The detective's attorney, John Arlia, denied Braszczok participated in the attack.
"The video depicts in no point anywhere that my client is near Mr. Lien," Arlia told reporters.
At the arraignment, Arlia said Braszczok was 12 feet from Lien and that the SUV's window had already been broken.
"He never came into contact with the victim," Arlia said. "They overcharged my client."
The complaint said that Braszczok was seen on video riding the Yamaha and wearing a black vest with "WOJTEK" written on the front. Braszczok was released on $150,000 bond.
After the hearing, Braszczok was led out of the courthouse with his face hidden beneath a black hooded sweatshirt.
Caldwell was accused of using his helmet to smash the driver's side window. Multiple bikers then started hitting Lien through the broken glass, police said.
Bail for Caldwell was also set at a $150,000 bond.
Braszczok and Caldwell are due back in court Friday.
Kuehne was arrested and charged with gang assault, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief, officials said.
With Maria Alvarez