NYPD Probes Role of Undercover Officer in SUV-Biker Brawl

The officer, who was not on duty, came forward several days after the Sept. 29 fight to say he was present, according to a source

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    An NYPD officer who was on a deep undercover assignment was present when a violent fight erupted between a group of motorcyclists and a man driving an SUV in Manhattan, several law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York.

    The officer, who was not on duty, came forward on Wednesday, several days after the Sept. 29 fight, to say he was present, according to a source, and did not call 911 when the assault was taking place.

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    NYPD spokesman John McCarthy said a detective had been stripped of his gun and badge pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

    McCarthy said internal affairs was investigating the case and looking into whether any off-duty officers may have been present.
     
    Undercover officers are required to immediately report being a witness to a crime. Uniformed officers are required to take police action if they see a crime occurring, but the rules are murkier for undercover officers who face blowing their cover, confusing civilians who don't realize the undercover is really a cop and ruining years-long investigations.
     
    It is unclear why the officer was riding with the group of motorcyclists.

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    Five other officers under investigation for participation in the pack of riders are not believed to have been undercover, sources said, and they may not have known the undercover officer's identity.

    The news that an undercover officer was embroiled in the brawl came as police announced major developments in the investigation into the case.

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    On Saturday morning police announced that they had arrested another person in connection with the brawl, Robert Sims, 35, of Brooklyn, who was charged with first-degree attempted gang assault, second-degree gang assault, first-degree attempted assault, second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

    Information on a lawyer for Sims was not immediately available.

    EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: SUV Chased by Pack of Bikers Is Towed Away

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    The Range Rover that struck a biker after a group of motorcyclists swarmed a family in an SUV is towed away from a lot in Manhattan on Thursday. The family in the SUV said they had no choice to speed away. Edwin Mieses Jr., the biker struck by the SUV, is said to be paralyzed. Police are looking for the biker who assaulted the driver of the SUV. (Published Friday, Oct 4, 2013)

    The arrest came as the police identified another person of interest in the Washington Heights brawl, in which one of the bikers was hit by the SUV driver and motorcyclists surrounded and attacked the driver.

    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.

    Thar arrest followed a 37-year-old suspect turning himself in to police. The suspect was captured on video using his helmet to break the driver's side window of the Range Rover he and other bikers chased on the West Side Highway before allegedly yanking the driver out of the car and assaulting him.

    Meanwhile, the longtime girlfriend of the biker who was struck by the SUV during a confrontation that sparked the chase said that he is a devoted family man.

    Dayana Mejia cried during a press conference in New York City on Friday and said her partner, 32-year-old Edwin Mieses Jr., is an adoring father to the couple's two children.

    Mejia says the people who participated in the motorcycle ride are "not thugs."

    Gloria Allred, Mieses' attorney, says he was trying to "calm people down" and "get everyone to move on and go back to riding" when the SUV hit him on Sunday.

    "He was attempting to defuse the situation," she said. "He turned his back to the SUV to start walking back to his own bike. It was then, with his back to the SUV and he was in front of it, that he was run over and crushed."

    Video shows the SUV surrounded by dozens of helmeted riders on the Henry Hudson Parkway. The driver, Alexian Lien, drove through the crowd and struck Mieses.

    Lien's wife says he feared for his family's safety and was trying to flee.

    Mieses remains hospitalized at St. Luke's with a broken spine, fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a torn aortic valve. Allred said doctors have indicated they do not know whether he'll walk again.

    Mieses' father, Edwin Mieses Sr., said "emotions got the best of several people on Sunday, and when people react based on emotions, they often make poor choices."

    "The driver of the SUV is eventually going to have to face what he did," said Mieses Sr., adding that he felt no anger toward Lien.

    Lien and his wife were out on Sunday with their little girl to celebrate their wedding anniversary when a group of bikers swarmed his Range Rover on the parkway, forcing the vehicle almost to a halt, the family said. In fear of his life, Lien told investigators he plowed through the crowd of bikers, running over Mieses.

    "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 in a statement released Thursday.

    Lien told police in initial interviews that he first called 911 when he spotted a group of motorcyclists driving erratically near the entrance to the Henry Hudson Parkway. As he continued onto the parkway and drove north, he bumped into the motorcycle of Christopher Cruz, who appears in the video to be slowing his bike in front of the SUV.

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