Prosecutors are digging for more evidence after deciding Wednesday not to bring charges against a Queens man arrested by police late Tuesday in connection with Sunday's bloody motorcycle melee, which led to the beating of an SUV driver in Manhattan.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said "at this time" his office would not prosecute biker Allen Edwards, 42, of Jamaica, pending further investigation of the case.
Wednesday night, the NYPD released a photo of a third person they were seeking to question in the attack.
Meanwhile, another biker, Christopher Cruz of Passaic, N.J., was freed Wednesday on $1,500 cash bail. Cruz, 28, was accused in a complaint with pulling his motorcycle in front of the SUV driven by Alexian Lien and slowing down in a way that interfered with the free flow of traffic on the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Cruz is charged with reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment, both misdemeanors, and had his driver's license suspended by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Abraham Clott. Lien has not been charged.
Police have searched the home of a 37-year-old Bellport man thought to have recorded the incident on a helmet-cam, News 12 Long Island reported Wednesday, removing two laptop computers, a cellphone and a digital camera but not arresting the man.
The confrontation between Lien, 33, and the band of bikers led to his beating about 4 miles away. Biker Edward Mieses Jr., 32, of Massachusetts, was left with broken legs and other serious injuries after Lien hit him while trying to flee the motorcyclists, police said.
"Everybody wants to blame the bikers for something this man [Lien] did," Mieses' wife, Dayana, told The Associated Press. Lien couldn't be reached for comment.
Top Vance deputy Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said the office is taking the case, which has gone viral on the Internet, seriously, but that "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."
Investigators have to sort out possible criminal responsibility for both Lien and the bikers who were involved in the mass ride known as a "stunt." Six minutes of the incident were recorded by a helmet camera worn by a biker.
Defense attorneys not involved in the case agreed it would take a lot of work for prosecutors and police to sort out.
"Clearly, from a criminal perspective it is going to be virtually impossible to formulate a criminal case just on the video," said Joseph Di Benedetto, a Manhattan defense attorney.
Former prosecutor James DiPietro of Brooklyn thinks driver Lien could use the legal concept of "choice of evil," a form of self-defense, if he is charged. "When you are put in that Hobson's choice and fleeing [assault] and you run somebody down -- there is no criminal liability," DiPietro said.With Maria Alvarez