NYPD undercover detective arrested in motorcycle melee

Bikers attack a Range Rover as a dispute Bikers attack a Range Rover as a dispute transpires between the driver and dozens of motorcyclists on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. (Sept. 29, 2013) Photo Credit: YouTube

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An undercover NYPD detective was arrested Tuesday in connection with the motorcycle melee that left the driver of an SUV beaten more than a week ago in Manhattan, the NYPD said.

Det. Wojciech Braszczok, 32, of Queens, was charged with riot and criminal mischief.

Braszczok was among the bikers involved in the confrontation and was seen on video hitting and kicking an SUV that was the target of biker violence, two people familiar with the case told The Associated Press.

Tuesday night, the NYPD said another biker had been arrested in the case. Clint Caldwell, 32, of Brooklyn, has been charged with gang assault, assault and criminal mischief, police said.

Although his lawyer said Monday that Braszczok, who was off-duty that day, had only witnessed other bikers attacking the vehicle, investigators have video evidence they think shows him participating in the melee, according to the two people, who asked not to be identified.

The disclosure added to the complexities of the Sept. 29 episode, which authorities say began with a reckless motorcycle group ride on the West Side Highway. It ended with one motorcyclist run over and the SUV driver, Alexian Lien, 33, dragged from his car and beaten on a Manhattan street.

Faced with the prospect of the detective's arrest, Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives Endowment Association, said: "The facts are evolving and changing so quickly that the union will withhold any further comment until we see what further investigation reveals."

Philip Karasyk, Braszczok's attorney, didn't return a telephone call for comment. On Monday, Karasyk said his client was afraid to reveal his status as a police officer during the fray because Braszczok feared possible disciplinary action if he did so.

Five bikers have been criminally charged.

Arraigned Tuesday was Craig Wright, 29, of Queens, who faces felony charges of gang assault, assault and unlawful imprisonment, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court. Bail was set at $150,000 by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Tamiko Amaker.

Wright was seen on a video of the altercation stomping on Lien and striking him with his biker helmet, the complaint said.

"There should be no rush to judgment with reference to his actions," defense attorney Mitchell C. Elman told reporters outside court. With AP

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