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NYPD undercover detective arrested in motorcycle melee

Police say about 30 bikers surrounded the vehicle,

Police say about 30 bikers surrounded the vehicle, beat the driver and damaged the car. (Credit: YouTube)

An off-duty, 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.

Detective Wojciech Braszczok, 32, was charged with riot and criminal mischief.

Braszczok was among the group of 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.

Although his lawyer said Monday that Braszczok 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 he said Braszczok was afraid to reveal his status as a police officer during the fray because he feared possible disciplinary action if he did so.

Four bikers have been criminally charged. The latest to be 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. Ellman told reporters outside court.

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