Biker melee victim testifies in undercover NYPD cop's trial

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NEW YORK (AP) — An SUV driver who was beaten bloody by a group of angry motorcyclists after he'd run a biker over wept as he testified Monday that he was scared to death during the melee.

"Complete fear. For my life, for my wife's, for my daughter's," Alexian Lien told a judge, speaking at length for the first time publicly about the September 2013 fracas.

Lien was testifying at the trial of undercover detective Wojciech Braszczok and co-defendant Robert Sims, who are charged with assault and other crimes following a motorcycle rally that devolved into pandemonium and became a highway horror story to millions who saw a helmet-camera video posted online.

Braszczok, who was off duty when he participated in the rally gone wrong, was accused by Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass of failing to act as a police officer. Braszczok reached into a broken window on the SUV, then stood by and eventually drove off as others pulled Lien from the car and attacked him, prosecutors said.

"Not only did he fail to protect and serve, he cast his lot in with the assailants," Steinglass said.

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Biker melee victim testifies in undercover NYPD cop's trial
New York Police detective Wojciech Braszczok covers his face as he leaves a court room in New York, Tuesday, May 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Wojciech Braszczok, center, is led into the courtroom while covering his face in New York, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. Prosecutors said Thursday they have changed their minds about reducing charges against Braszczok, an undercover police detective accused of taking part in a motorcyclists-versus-SUV driver melee that was caught on video. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Undercover police officer Wojciech Braszczok center rear, covers up his face as he exits Manhattan state Supreme Court, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, in New York. Braszczok pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to gang assault related to a motorcyclist-SUV highway melee. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2013 file photo, undercover New York City Police Officer Wojciech Braszczok, center, covers up his face as he leaves Manhattan state Supreme Court, in New York. First-degree assault and gang assault charges are likely to be reduced against Braszczok and other bikers charged in the highway beating of an SUV driver. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano, File)
In a court sketch Wojciech Braszczok is seen in criminal court in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. Braszczok, an undercover police detective, was arrested as fallout from a burst of motorcyclist mayhem reached a new level, with investigators saying the officer was shown on video hitting and kicking an SUV before bikers attacked its driver. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Wiliams)
Clint Caldwell enters court to be arraigned Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in New York. Caldwell, 32, was charged Wednesday with gang assault after prosecutors said he pulled out the shattered glass from Alexian Lien's car two weeks ago following a chase up Manhattan's West Side Highway. (AP Photo/New York Post, Steven Hirsch, Pool)
Clint Caldwell, left, stands next to his lawyer, Raymond Colon, during his arraignment Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in New York. Caldwell, 32, was charged Wednesday with gang assault after prosecutors said he pulled out the shattered glass from Alexian Lien's car two weeks ago following a chase up Manhattan's West Side Highway. (AP Photo/Jefferson Siegel, Daily News, Pool)
In a court sketch Wojciech Braszczok is seen in criminal court in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. Braszczok, an undercover police detective, was arrested as fallout from a burst of motorcyclist mayhem reached a new level, with investigators saying the officer was shown on video hitting and kicking an SUV before bikers attacked its driver. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Wiliams)
Wojciech Braszczok, center left, with face covered, leaves the courthouse in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. Braszczok, an undercover police detective, was charged with gang assault in a motorcycle rally that descended into violence in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Craig Wright, right, stands in court with his attorney Mitchell Elman in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Wright, 29, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of gang assault, assault and unlawful imprisonment, police said, for his involvement with an encounter between a group of bikers and the driver of a sport utility vehicle on Sept. 29. Dozens of bikers stopped the Range Rover SUV on a highway, attacked the vehicle, then chased the driver and pulled him from the car after he plowed over a motorcyclist while trying to escape, police said. The driver, Alexian Lien, needed stitches after being pummeled by the bikers. (AP Photo/New York Post, Steven Hirsch, Pool)
Craig Wright, right, stands in court with his attorney Mitchell Elman in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Wright, 29, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of gang assault, assault and unlawful imprisonment, police said, for his involvement with an encounter between a group of bikers and the driver of a sport utility vehicle on Sept. 29. Dozens of bikers stopped the Range Rover SUV on a highway, attacked the vehicle, then chased the driver and pulled him from the car after he plowed over a motorcyclist while trying to escape, police said. The driver, Alexian Lien, needed stitches after being pummeled by the bikers. (AP Photo/Jefferson Siegel, Pool)
The Range Rover involved in the bikers attack is being moved from the police precinct for further police investigation Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 in New York. Last weekend, dozens of bikers stopped the Range Rover SUV on a highway, attacked the vehicle, then chased the driver and pulled him from the car after he plowed over a motorcyclist while trying to escape, police said. The driver, Alexian Lien, needed stitches after being pummeled by the bikers. The motorcyclist who was crushed by the SUV, Edwin Mieses Jr., of Lawrence, Massachusetts, suffered a broken spine and two broken legs and may never walk again, his family said. Robert Sims, 35, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of gang assault and weapons possession. Police said he took part in the attack on Lien (AP Photo/David Karp)
The Range Rover involved in the bikers attack is being moved from the police precinct for further police investigation Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 in New York. Last weekend, dozens of bikers stopped the Range Rover SUV on a highway, attacked the vehicle, then chased the driver and pulled him from the car after he plowed over a motorcyclist while trying to escape, police said. The driver, Alexian Lien, needed stitches after being pummeled by the bikers. The motorcyclist who was crushed by the SUV, Edwin Mieses Jr., of Lawrence, Massachusetts, suffered a broken spine and two broken legs and may never walk again, his family said. Robert Sims, 35, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of gang assault and weapons possession. Police said he took part in the attack on Lien (AP Photo/David Karp)
The Range Rover involved in the bikers attack is being moved from the police precinct for further police investigation Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 in New York. Last weekend, dozens of bikers stopped the Range Rover SUV on a highway, attacked the vehicle, then chased the driver and pulled him from the car after he plowed over a motorcyclist while trying to escape, police said. The driver, Alexian Lien, needed stitches after being pummeled by the bikers. The motorcyclist who was crushed by the SUV, Edwin Mieses Jr., of Lawrence, Massachusetts, suffered a broken spine and two broken legs and may never walk again, his family said. Robert Sims, 35, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of gang assault and weapons possession. Police said he took part in the attack on Lien (AP Photo/David Karp)
Dayana Mejia, center, and attorney Gloria Allred, right, hold up a laptop with images of Mejia's partner, Edwin Mieses Jr., during a news conference in New York, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Mejia was struck by an SUV during a bloody weekend confrontation with a throng of motorcyclists. Seated at left is Mieses' father, Edwin Mieses Sr. Shown on the laptop are images of Mieses Jr., before and after the incident. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Attorney Gloria Allred, right, speaks as Edwin Mieses Sr., left, and Dayana Mejia listen during a news conference, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in New York. Mejia, the longtime girlfriend of biker Edwin Mieses Jr., the son of Edwin Mieses Sr., who was struck by an SUV during a bloody weekend confrontation with a throng of motorcyclists, says he is a devoted family man. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Christopher Cruz appears in criminal court in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Cruz was charged Wednesday with reckless driving after prosecutors said he touched off a tense encounter with the driver of an SUV and a throng of other bikers (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Christopher Cruz, right, appears in criminal court with his lawyer H. Benjamin Perez in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Cruz, 28, of New Jersey, was charged Wednesday with reckless driving after prosecutors said he touched off a tense encounter with the driver of a sport utility vehicle and a throng of other bikers that ended with blood and broken bones on a Manhattan street. He was also charged with unlawful imprisonment. His bail was set at $1,500 cash. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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Defense attorney John Arlia said Braszczok was acting as a cop afraid of blowing his deep cover. He denied Braszczok took part in any assault. Braszczok should have told his colleagues that he'd seen the assault, but he was afraid of losing his job, Arlia said.

"But that does not make him a criminal," he said.

Sims' lawyer Luther Williams didn't give an opening statement, but has said his client was working with police and helped save the life of the biker struck by Lien.

The defendants decided to have a judge, not a jury, determine the outcome. Eleven men were indicted after the melee; the others have pleaded guilty to charges including assault and riot and face sentences of probation to two years in prison. Some of the road encounters were caught on video and posted online.

On the witness stand, Lien said he, his wife and their toddler were headed to New Jersey for some shopping for the couple's anniversary. But when they hit Manhattan's West Side Highway in their blue Range Rover, they crossed paths with hundreds of bikers. Some were popping wheelies and slapping the tops of cars they passed.

One motorcyclist tried to block other cars from going north to allow the bikes to pass, but Lien said he was "annoyed" and wanted to get on with his day, so he kept driving. As the bikes whizzed by, his wife tossed a half-eaten plum and later a water bottle at the bikers, he said.

Tensions rose. A motorcyclist knocked off his rear-view mirror, and Lien was eventually forced to a stop as some bikers got off their rides and approached his car.

"And as they're around my car, I feel it being hit, being kicked," he said. "I'm horrified at this point, and I recall asking my wife, 'What do I do? What do I do?' " he recounted through tears. "She says, 'Just go! Just go!"

"And I make a hard right because I see there's an opening and I ... I just go."

He said he knew he had hit someone. "But I just wanted to escape the situation," he said.

Bikers followed him off the highway, eventually pulling him from the SUV and attacking him in front of his wife and daughter. Lien needed at least 20 stitches and has permanent scars on his face, Steinglass said.

Lien was not charged. The biker Lien hit, Edwin Mieses, was paralyzed.

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