NBC 4 New York
As the investigation into Sunday's SUV-versus-motorcycle attack continues, police are shifting their attention to two men who may have witnessed the beating. Tracie Strahan has more.
The family involved in a chilling clash with a pack of motorcyclists broke their silence Thursday as police said they've identified a main suspect in the assault and expect him to surrender within the next day.
The 37-year-old suspect was captured on video using his silver-colored motorcycle helmet to break the driver's side window of a Range Rover he and other bikers chased on the West Side Highway before allegedly yanking the driver out of the car and assaulting him. The suspect is expected to turn himself in Thursday or Friday.
Law enforcement officials say detectives have been speaking with the mother of the suspect's six children and with other family members to work on a surrender.
The suspect has at least 21 prior arrests, some for drugs and weapons possession and robbery, sources said.
Meanwhile, the family of the SUV driver, who ran over a biker after motorcyclists surrounded his car on the highway as he drove with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, says they are sorry for the biker's injuries but "could not have done anything differently" given the "life-threatening" situation they perceived.
Alexian Lien and his wife were out for the day with their little girl to celebrate their wedding anniversary when a group of bikers swarmed Lien's Range Rover, 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 one of them.
The biker he mowed down, Edwin Mieses Jr., is hospitalized at St. Luke's in Manhattan with broken legs and spinal injuries, and about 100 bikers rallied outside the hospital Wednesday to express their support.
On Thursday, Lien's family released a statement through their attorney that offered sympathies to the Mieses family 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.
"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.
Law enforcement officials said Lien's wife Rosalyn Ng made four 911 calls over an eight-minute period on the highway and that she sounded frantic in each call, screaming to the operator that the car was surrounded.
The sound of the bikers banging on the SUV is audible in the calls, according to the officials.
The chase ended when Lien's SUV exited the highway and got stuck in traffic. Police said the group of motorcyclists who'd followed Lien -- including the suspect in the silver helmet -- pulled him from the SUV and beat him in front of his wife and 2-year-old daughter.
Lien was taken to a hospital where he needed stitches for his face. He has not been charged, but Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has 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."
Lien has no prior arrests.
Detectives have also identified at least a dozen of the bikers who surrounded the SUV, including the man who recorded the video of the chase and beating that has since gone viral, according to officials. His Long Island home was searched Wednesday and the recovered equipment is now being analyzed.
Law enforcement officials said it appears the man intentionally stopped recording the moment Lien was pulled out of his car and beaten. The man told detectives that the battery on the Go Pro camera died, but investigators doubt that claim because there is additional video footage on the camera that was taken some time after the alleged assault.
The bikers in the video who have been identified by police and are cooperating with them say that most of the riders did not know each other, and that they'd only met that day before riding together to the West Side Highway.
One of the cooperating bikers is another man who suffered a broken leg after being hit by Lien's Range Rover.
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.
Christopher Cruz's lawyer said in court Oct. 2 he never tried to deliberately slow down in front of Lien and that he did not know any of the other motorcyclists involved in the alleged beating of Lien.
Police are also searching for two witnesses, pictured below, who saw Lien allegedly being assaulted.
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, who has retained Gloria Allred to represent her family in a potential case against the driver, told reporters. "They crushed his spine. They broke it in two different places, so he will be forever, forever paralyzed."
Mieses was recently arrested in Andover, Mass., for driving with a revoked license. According to police and records with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, Mieses hasn't had a valid license or permit to drive in the state since 1999. He also never applied for a motorcycle license.
The records show that in June he was named a habitual offender and his right to drive in the state was revoked until 2017. It isn't clear if he had been licensed in any other state. His attorney had no comment.
Mieses and the others seen on the video were participating in a periodic rally called Hollywood Stuntz in which more than 1,000 bikers head for Times Square, police have said. There were dozens of calls about reckless driving, 15 other arrests and 55 motorcycles confiscated.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat Thursday released new video of the group of motorcyclists taking over the streets and sidewalks of Inwood before the vicious road rage confrontation.
"They took control of the gas station across the street," he said. "They were driving on the sidewalk. People were forced to run into restaurants because they felt they would be run over by these motorcycles."
Espaillat is calling for tougher laws and stiffer penalties on rogue bikers.
"This is totally out of control," he said.