Christopher Cruz, right, appears in criminal court with his lawyer H. Benjamin Perez in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
NEW YORK (AP) — The driver of an SUV involved in a bloody weekend confrontation with a throng of motorcyclists was put in “grave danger” and feared for the life of his family when he drove through the crowd, striking a biker on the street, his wife said Thursday.
Rosalyn Ng said in a statement that she and her husband, Alexian Lien, had been planning to celebrate their wedding anniversary with their 2-year-old daughter on Sunday afternoon, but instead they were swarmed by a motorcycle rally on Manhattan’s West Side Highway.
Dozens of bikers rode alongside the couple’s black Range Rover until a biker slowed down and the vehicles bumped, police said. Video captured at the scene shows the SUV surrounded by dozens of helmeted riders. One approaches the vehicle and peers into the driver’s side window. Police said others tried to damage the SUV before Lien takes off, plowing over a rider. The bikers give chase and Lien is eventually stopped, pulled from the SUV and beaten, police said. He required stitches.
“We were faced with a life-threatening situation, and my husband was forced under the circumstances to take the actions that he did in order to protect the lives of our entire family,” Ng said.
She said her family’s sympathies went out to the injured rider, 32-year-old Edwin Mieses Jr., who broke both legs and suffered spinal injuries that may leave him paralyzed — but there was no other option than to flee.
“Our fear for our lives was confirmed when the incident ended with the ruthless and brutal attack on my husband, me, and, most importantly, our 2-year-old child,” Ng 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.”
Mieses’ friends and family held a rally for him Wednesday evening outside of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt hospital and have said that the Lawrence, Mass.-resident, known as Jay Meezee, is the true victim. Jaime Reyes said his friend was doing well, all things considered.
“Hopefully, I get to see him walk again and ride again and share special moments with him again,” he said. “But for right now, we’re all just praying for him and thinking positive that he’s going to pull through and make it through this.”
Mieses was recently arrested in Andover, Mass., for driving with a revoked license. According to police and records with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, Mieses hasn’t had a valid license or permit to drive in the state since 1999. He also never applied for a motorcycle license.
The records show that in June he was named a habitual offender and his right to drive in the state was revoked until 2017. It isn’t clear if he had been licensed in any other state. His attorney had no comment.
Lien has no prior arrests.
Mieses and the others seen on the video were participating in a periodic rally in which more than 1,000 bikers head for Times Square, police have said. There were dozens of calls about reckless driving, 15 other arrests and 55 motorcycles confiscated.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has charged one rider, 28-year-old Christopher Cruz, of Passaic, N.J., with unlawful imprisonment and reckless driving while authorities continue to search for other cyclists.
Investigators and prosecutors, who held off charging another person, are tracking down and talking to dozens of helmet-clad motorcyclists seen in the video, which was posted online. The video shows only the chase and Lien’s window getting smashed; the assault is not captured. Police on Thursday evening released photos of two witnesses they want to speak to in the case.
Associated Press video journalist Ted Shaffrey and writer Mark Pratt in Boston contributed to this report.