NEW YORK (CNN) — Authorities have identified and will soon apprehend a motorcyclist who played a direct role in the beating in New York City of the driver of an SUV, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.
The biker is suspected of bashing in the driver’s window, the official said late Thursday.
Police say the incident — some of which was captured on video — began Sunday afternoon when a man driving his wife and their 2-year-old daughter in a Range Rover on Manhattan’s West Side Highway struck a motorcycle, which had slowed in front of his SUV. The cyclist was slightly injured.
When Alexian Lien, the SUV driver, pulled to a stop, other bikers — part of a group called Hollywood Stuntz — surrounded the vehicle, hit it and spiked its tires, police said.
Lien then pulled away, plowing into three more bikers, including Edwin Mieses, who was critically injured.
After a chase, the bikers cornered the SUV. The video shows one biker, the one being sought by police, using his helmet to smash the driver’s side window.
Police said the bikers then dragged Lien from the vehicle and beat him. His wife and daughter were unharmed.
A motorcyclist who shot helmet-cam video of the incident has been questioned by police, who seized the raw video of the incident from his home in Bellport, on Long Island. An edited version of the video, which authorities say ended moments before Lien was pulled from his vehicle, had been posted on the Internet.
Lien was treated at a hospital for slashes to his face.
The family was on an outing to celebrate their wedding anniversary, Lien’s wife said Thursday in a written statement.
“My husband was forced under the circumstances to take the actions that he did in order to protect the lives of our entire family,” she said.
“We know in our hearts that we could not have done anything differently, and we believe that anyone faced with this sort of grave danger would have taken the same course of action in order to protect their family.”
It was Lien’s wife who made the last of three 911 calls the family placed during the incident, CNN has learned.
New video emerged Thursday showing bikers riding on sidewalks before Sunday’s rally. It prompted state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, D-New York City, to call for stricter enforcement of traffic laws.
“I don’t see why you can have 500 motorcycles that are doing wheelies and that are out of control stopping traffic, totally stopping traffic in the highway or in some streets and doing whatever they want,” he told reporters about the video, which his office released.
Bikers have called for Lien to be charged.
“That wasn’t fear, that was aggression — he ran over three bikes,” a man who identified himself as Jose told reporters Thursday night. “Are we saying, if you feel nervous you can kill somebody? You can paralyze somebody? I think we need to charge him immediately.”
Another biker called for cool heads to prevail. “We are not here to blame anyone, we are not here to point any fingers,” Albert Elkerson said. “The true question is how could we have avoided what happened last Sunday, and what can we do to prevent that.”
Police arrested Christopher Cruz, the biker seen slowing in front of the Range Rover before being bumped.
Cruz, 28, was in court Wednesday on misdemeanor charges including reckless driving. He was released after posting $1,500 cash bail and a $15,000 insurance bond. In addition, his license was suspended, and he was ordered to surrender his passport.
Cruz is not guilty, according to his lawyer.
“His motorcycle was struck, and he stood right there,” Cruz’s attorney H. Benjamin Perez said. “He never assaulted this man. He never tried to assault him in any way. And he does not know any of the other motorcyclists who were involved in this beating.”
A second biker was released Wednesday when authorities determined that he may have been trying to help.
Mieses’ family says he is the real victim. “All of his ribs are fractured. His lungs are so badly bruised that he’s still on a ventilator,” Yolanda Santiago, his mother, told CNN affiliate WCBS.
Mieses’ wife, Dayana, told CNN affiliate WBZ that he got off his bike to help the SUV driver. She blamed Lien. “He got scared, he peeled off, and he paralyzed my husband on the way,” she said.