About 100 bikers rallied near a Manhattan hospital Wednesday where a man was hospitalized after he was run over by an SUV on the West Side Highway, setting off a chase and the driver's beating.
Police barricades went up near the hospital as authorities braced for the organized ride. Edwin Mieses Jr. is recovering after suffering broken legs and spinal injuries after he and a group of fellow riders swarmed the Range Rover on the West Side Highway, his family has said.
The Mieses family hired celebrity attorney Gloria Allred to represent him in a potential case against Alexian Lien, the driver who hit him.
On Thursday, Lien's family released a statement through their attorney that offered sympathies to the injured motorcyclist but said Lien was in a "life-threatening" situation and had to take action as he did in order to protect his wife and 2-year-old daughter, who were also in the car at the time.
"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," the Lien family said.
The bikers that traveled to St. Luke's Hospital to rally for the injured cyclist Wednesday would not say whether they were part of the group that traveled on the highway, but defended themselves against the perception that motoryclists were menacing.
"We're not savages, we're not animals," said one rider. "We're just average people that love to ride."
Another motorcylist said "no one is getting justice for this gentleman in the hospital."
Detectives on Wednesday searched the Long Island home of the biker they believe recorded a video of the chase and beating that has since gone viral. Equipment recovered at the home is now being analyzed, law enforcement officials said.
Two bikers had been arrested since the ride on Sunday, but one has been released.
Allen Edwards, 42, of Queens — believed to be the man seen on video striking the Range Rover's rear driver's side window with his fists, surrendered to police on Tuesday. But the Manhattan DA declined to prosecute, "pending further investigation of the entire incident," the office said Wednesday.
Sources said he has been cooperative and there is no indication he participated in the assault of Lien. He may have even tried to come to the victim's aid, sources said.
The other arrested biker, Christopher Cruz, of Passaic, N.J., was charged with second-degree unlawful imprisonment and reckless driving. Cruz, who was uninjured, was arraigned Wednesday. Prosecutors say he deliberately slowed down in front of the Range Rover on the West Side Highway, trapping him there, but Cruz's lawyer said that was not true.
Meanwhile, the wife of the hospitalized biker said her husband is the real victim in the altercation.
"There's no hope for his back," Dayana Mieses told reporters. "They crushed his spine. They broke it in two different places, so he will be forever, forever paralyzed."
The dispute set off when the group, in town for an unauthorized motorcycle rally, slowed down in front of the Range Rover.
The video then shows a large group of bikers clustering around the Range Rover heading north. 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 a few miles.
The chase ended when the SUV exited the highway and got stuck in 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 SUV's driver was taken to a hospital where he needed stitches for his face. His wife and 2-year-old were not injured. He has not been charged. But Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said they were still investigating.
"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."
The bikers were in town for an event called Hollywood Stuntz, where motorcyclists drive around Manhattan doing tricks. The NYPD received more than 200 complaints over the weekend relating to the event, the department said.