NEW: NYPD asks for the public's help in identifying, locating suspects
NEW: A motorcyclist describes the SUV driver as a "maniac"
The incident started when a Range Rover driver accidentally hit a biker, NYPD says
Other bikers chased the SUV, slashed its tires, forcing the driver to stop, police say
Prosecutors dropped charges Wednesday against one of two men arrested in connection with an attack over the weekend on an SUV driver who was swarmed by bikers on a New York City street.
“We are taking Sunday’s crimes extremely seriously, and will proceed with charges in a manner that enables us to build the strongest cases possible,” said Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, the prosecutor who is overseeing the case.
Charges against motorcyclist Allen Edwards were dropped. The 42-year-old biker had originally faced charges of reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and menacing, the New York City Police Department said.
But that didn’t mean the prosecutors were done.
“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,” said Friedman-Agnifilo said in a statement. “After we investigate the facts and each person’s individual actions, we will know what charges can be supported by the evidence. There is still a tremendous amount of investigation to be done.”
The NYPD released images and asked for the public’s help in identifying and locating suspects wanted in connection with the attack.
The incident has drawn attention because much of it was captured in a video that shows Edwards just before the alleged assault.
Edwards is one of the bikers seen pounding on the windows of a Range Rover after it was forced to stop in traffic following a chase by bikers – an account confirmed by a police official.
Edwards may have been trying to protect the driver of the SUV who had come under attack, according to one witness, a law enforcement official said.
If so, that may not be obvious in the video, which appears to have been shot by a biker, because it ends before the driver of the SUV is dragged from the vehicle, which also held his wife and 2-year-old daughter.
Edwards, who surrendered to police, is cooperating with authorities, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.
Police have said the SUV driver, identified by a source with knowledge of the incident as businessman Alexian Lien, initially called 911 on Sunday afternoon to report that bikers were driving erratically on the West Side Highway.
Police say Lien sped off after allegedly accidentally hitting one biker, Christopher Cruz, who had moved in front of his SUV and then slowed.
Cruz, 28, was in court Wednesday facing misdemeanor charges, including reckless driving. Cruz’s attorney told reporters that his client is not guilty.
Cruz was to be 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.
“His motorcycle was struck and he stood right there. 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,” attorney H. Benjamin Perez told reporters.
Jerome Davis witnessed a part of the confrontation between the motorcyclists and the driver, who he described as a “maniac.”
“If something happens, you stop right there. It’s an accident. You think and stop. You don’t keep reacting on,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
Investigators say Lien told them he feared for his life when bikers surrounded his vehicle, pounding on it and slashing his tires.
He stepped on the gas and hit three more bikers, injuring one of them – Edwin Mieses – critically.
“All of his ribs are fractured,” Mieses’ mother, Yolanda Santiago, told WBZ, “his lungs are so badly bruised that he’s still on a ventilator.”
Mieses’ wife said he had been trying to help the first biker who was initially hit by the SUV when he, too, was hit.
His family has said he is paralyzed and in a coma.
Police said the biker group, called “Hollywood Stuntz,” chased the driver, whose flat tires forced him to stop.
Cornered, Lien was beaten, police said. He was treated at a hospital for slashes to his face and released. Neither his wife nor his child was hurt.
CNN’s Elizabeth Landers and Lawrence Crook III contributed to this report.