DA: Charges Stand Against Officer in Bike-Gang Attack

NEW YORK (AP) -
Wojciech Braszczok on Thursday is led into the Manhattan courtroom with his face covered. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Wojciech Braszczok on Thursday is led into the Manhattan courtroom with his face covered. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Prosecutors said Thursday they have changed their minds about reducing charges against an undercover cop accused of taking part in a bike gang-versus-SUV driver melee that was caught on video.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office had said in December that the SUV driver’s facial injuries were healing and might not warrant the first-degree assault and gang assault charges against Detective Wojciech Braszczok and nine other bikers. The charges require permanent disfigurement.

“Unfortunately, it appears the victim’s injuries have not healed as well as we initially believed they would,” so the charges stand for now, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said Thursday.

Defense lawyer John Arlia told a judge the developments meant “the game will change” in the case, which grabbed headlines last fall as a highway horror. Braszczok — who walked through the courthouse hallway with a hood up and a scarf covering most of his face to shield himself from photographers — has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers have said that he never came close to the SUV driver and that the video footage will exonerate him.

The other nine motorcyclists have court dates Friday. The DA’s office declined to comment on whether their charges would also remain the same, but they are based on the same injuries.

The SUV driver, Alexian Lien, has filed a legal notice saying he plans to sue the city over Braszczok’s role in the Sept. 29 confrontation.

The off-duty Braszczok wasn’t accused of hitting Lien. But prosecutors have said he shattered the SUV’s back window and did nothing to end the assault or get help. The 10-year police veteran said he didn’t intervene partly because he works undercover.

Crushed by the SUV, Mieses suffered broken legs and severe spine injuries. He has gone home from a hospital but still needs a wheelchair, and he most likely never will walk again, his lawyer, Gloria Allred, said this week.