An undercover NYPD detective was found guilty on Tuesday of participating in a headline-grabbing 2013 attack by a mob of motorcyclists on an SUV driver in upper Manhattan as his wife and baby daughter looked on.
Wojciech Braszczok faces up to 7 years in prison for second-degree assault, riot, coercion and criminal mischief, but he was acquitted by State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley, who heard the case in Manhattan without a jury, of more serious assault charges that carried a top sentence of 25 years.
The convictions of Braszczok and co-defendant Robert Sims brought to 11 the number of convictions. Nine bikers pleaded guilty. Braszczok, whose sentencing was set for Aug. 6, has been suspended and will be fired due to the conviction, an NYPD spokesman said.
"The explosive nature of this gang assault . . . was shocking, and for the victim and his family, a terrifying ordeal," said District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. " . . . The convictions of eleven defendants demonstrate that gang violence of any kind is a threat to public safety that will not be tolerated."
The incident began during a Sept. 29, 2013, biker rally on the West Side Highway. Braszczok, 34, of Queens, who was off-duty, was among hundreds of motorcyclists who became involved in an altercation with sport utility vehicle driver Alexian Lien.
Lien, surrounded and threatened, struck a biker while trying to escape -- the man was paralyzed -- and then was chased by bikers to an intersection at 178th Street, where he was dragged from his vehicle, beaten and stomped. The attack was recorded on two videos.
Braszczok did nothing to stop the attack. He was accused of participating in the pursuit of Lien and smashing the SUV's rear window showering Lien's wife and baby with shattered glass, but not with beating Lien himself.
At trial, Braszczok testified that he chased the SUV because Lien was fleeing after hitting the biker, and then didn't intervene to stop the beating because he feared for his safety, and lied to superiors about his involvement because he feared he would be fired.
Defense lawyer John Arlia argued at trial that his client didn't intend to injure anyone. Arlia did not return a call for comment after the verdict, but told The Associated Press that Braszczok's acquittal on more serious charges of first-degree assault and gang assault was a victory, and the judge had doubts about his intent to injure.
"Det. Braszczok has been vindicated," the defense lawyer said. ". . . He wishes to move on with his life, and he thanks everyone who's reserved judgment up until this day."
With The Associated Press