New York: A man driving with his family along a New York City highway was attacked and beaten by a large group of motorcyclists who first surrounded his sport utility vehicle and stopped it on the road, then chased him for miles after he ploughed through the blockade of bikes in an attempt to escape.
One biker suffered broken legs and apparent spine injuries when the SUV ran over him and may be paralyzed, police said. A second biker suffered a leg injury. The driver, who was traveling with his wife and toddler, needed stitches to his face at a hospital.
The frightening assault on the man began Sunday afternoon on Manhattan's West Side Highway and was partially captured on a helmet-mounted video camera worn by one of the riders involved in the chase.
A portion of the video, posted on the Internet by an unidentified user, shows a large group of bikers swarming around the Range Rover as it heads north on the highway. One of the bikers then moves into the SUV's lane and rides briefly alongside it, peering in through the driver's side window. It's unclear from the video what the driver might have done to anger the motorcyclist.
The biker then cuts in front of the Range Rover and, still staring at the driver, suddenly slows down. It isn't captured on the video, but the motorcycle and SUV bumped, police said.
The motorcyclists, 20 to 30 in all, then stop on the highway, blocking the SUV's path. Some dismount and approach the vehicle. Police said some of the bikers then began damaging the Range Rover.
The video shows the SUV suddenly accelerating, bouncing over at least one of the motorcycles and its rider as others scramble to get out of the way. The cyclists give chase, pursuing the driver for about 2.5 miles (4 kilometres). The bikers succeed in getting the SUV to stop.
One biker ripped open the driver's door, but he sped away.
The chase ended when the SUV exited the highway and got stuck in street traffic. The video shows one biker using his helmet to smash the driver's window. Police said the group then pulled the man from the SUV and beat him, although that part isn't shown on the recording posted online. The police department confirmed that the video circulating online is authentic.
The wife of biker Edwin Mieses, Jr., who was run over by the SUV, told reporters outside Roosevelt-St. Luke's Hospital that her husband was likely paralyzed.
"There's no hope for his back," Dayana Meises said. "They crushed his spine, they broke it in two different places, so he will be forever, forever paralyzed."
She said she wanted people to know the driver wasn't the only victim. "Everyone wants to blame the bikers for something this man did," she said.
The driver of the SUV, Alexian Lien, 33, has not been charged, officials said. But Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday they were still investigating the incident. His wife and 2-year-old child were not injured.
"Well, it depends on what the circumstances are," Kelly said. "It depends on whether or not your vehicle is being attacked, whether or not you think you're being attacked, whether or not your wife and child's in the car. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances, and that's what we're doing."
On Tuesday, police arrested the biker who they say was involved in the initial accident. Christopher Cruz was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, endangering the welfare of a child and menacing. Cruz, who was uninjured, was in custody awaiting arraignment Tuesday and hadn't been assigned a lawyer. A woman who answered a phone at a number connected with Cruz's address said she didn't speak English and hung up.
A second suspect surrendered to police on Tuesday, but was not immediately charged, and his name wasn't released.
Police distributed an image of two bikers they said were involved in the chase and said they were wanted for assault.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the motorcyclists were participating in a periodic rally in which well over 1,000 bikers head for Times Square. He said police were caught by surprise by the unpermitted event last year but this year were aware it was taking place and "did a fair amount of enforcement" to break up the processions.
There were 15 arrests and 55 motorcycles confiscated, he said.