NEW YORK, NY — The lawyer for a biker captured on video smashing his shiny helmet into an SUV window in New York concedes his client “overreacted” but claims he did not take part in beating the driver.
Reginald Chance, 37, is charged with the felonies of first-degree assault and gang assault in the beating of driver Alexian Lien on September 29.
Video from a rider’s helmet camera showed bikers, apparently angered when Lien’s SUV bumped a biker who slowed abruptly, pursuing the vehicle until they could surround it and beat on the windows. Other photos show Lien beaten bloody and lying on the pavement.
Defense lawyer Gregory Watts said it’s “a given” that Chance hit the SUV’s window with his helmet. But he said Chance then walked away.
He claimed Chance was knocked off his motorcycle by Lien’s SUV after bikers had surrounded the vehicle earlier.
“The law does permit someone who is a victim of an accident to at least attempt to get the identification of the motorist,” Watts said. “My client obviously overreacted in that manner, but he is not this thug assaulting someone who’s harmless, contrary to the public opinion that’s being put out there.”
Defenders of the bikers, including relatives of one biker who was critically injured, have criticized Lien for driving through the crowd of motorcycles.
A bump on a tire
Lien, with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter, was driving his Range Rover back from a wedding anniversary celebration.
The helmet video seized by police shows dozens of bikers swarming past him on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. One motorcycle quickly slowed down in front of Lien, who bumped its rear tire, slightly injuring rider Christopher Cruz.
Lien pulled to a stop, and angry bikers surrounded his vehicle, hitting it and spiking its tires, police said.
Lien stepped on the gas, plowing into three more bikers, including Edwin Mieses, whose wife says he is paralyzed.
The video shows the Range Rover stopping again — long enough for a biker to open the door — and Lien then driving away until traffic forced him to the final stop.
Police say the subsequent beating included kicks to Lien’s head and body as he lay on the highway.
Injuries to SUV driver, biker
Lien suffered two black eyes and cuts on his face and side, requiring stitches, a police detective’s criminal complaint said.
His wife and daughter were unharmed.
Mieses’ family, meanwhile, has said he was paralyzed and needs a ventilator to breathe in the hospital.
They claim Mieses was trying to help Lien.
Chance’s lawyer said prosecutors should conduct a grand jury investigation of Lien for hitting Mieses and Chance with the SUV.
Chance was ordered held on $75,000 bond Sunday.
Assistant District Attorney Samantha Turino said Chance’s license had been suspended and he should not have been driving. She said Chance’s arrest record includes a marijuana charge in 2013 and attempted criminal possession of a weapon in 2006.
Christopher Cruz, 28, whom police say is the biker who slowed in front of Lien, was charged with reckless driving and other misdemeanors. He was released on bond.
His lawyer, H. Benjamin Perez, said, “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.”
Another biker, Robert Sims, is accused of stomping on Lien. He surrendered on Friday on charges of attempted assault and gang assault.
Police on Sunday released photos of two other men they want to find and question as part of the investigation.
By David Simpson and Susan Candiotti
CNN’s David Simpson wrote from Atlanta; CNN’s Susan Candiotti, Chris Welch and Margaret Conley reported from New York; CNN’s Tom Watkins and Greg Botelho reported from Atlanta.
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