Off-Duty Cop Expected to Be Charged in Beating of SUV Driver, Sources Say
MANHATTAN — Investigators expect to arrest an off-duty undercover detective who was part of the swarm of motorcyclists involved in the beating of a Manhattan dad chased down in Washington Heights, DNAinfo New York has learned.
The cop, who came forward several days after the beat-down claiming he played no role in the incident, was captured on several videos pounding on the motorist’s Range Rover, according to sources familiar with the NYPD Internal Affairs investigation.
The motorist was pulled out the car, punched and stomped while his horrified wife and 2-year-old daughter watched, cops said.
The sources said the off-duty cop, who is a seven-year veteran, will be formally charged as early as Thursday when authorities are expected to review all the tapes and decide whether he not only escalated the violence, but participated in it.
Possible charges could include riot, assault and official misconduct, depending on the extent of his involvement.
“It is safe to say he will be arrested,” one source predicted.
Through his attorney, the undercover cop maintained he was merely among the motorcyclists who followed the SUV driven by Alexian Lien after Lien ran over a biker to get away from a horde of bikers that surrounded him, his wife and child on the Henry Hudson Parkway on Sept. 29.
The officer, whose involvement surfaced last Wednesday, claimed he took no police action because he did not want to blow his undercover identity and that it was not necessary because he pulled up to the beat-down on W. 175th Street when it was virtually over.
But new video tapes clearly show him pounding on the car's window along with other outraged bikers, and sources say there are other videos that may show his involvement went even further.
Lien was pulled from his car and badly beaten before good Samaritans stepped in to stop the assault.
The unidentified detective has been placed on modified duty and stripped of his gun and badge.
“Based on recent developments, the union will withhold further comment while we wait to see what further investigation reveals,” said Michael Palladino, president of the detective's union.
Another detective who was recently arrested after a domestic row with his Queens assistant district attorney girlfriend, was also among the bikers during the West Side Highway chaos, as were another four off-duty NYPD officers, DNAinfo New York previously reported.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, weighed in on the NYPD scandal.
“I think we all, no matter what your job is, have an obligation to help one another,’’ Bloomberg said. “And if you see somebody getting beaten up, you know, let’s go jump in and stop the fight.”
Five bikers have been arrested so far in the case that has attracted nationwide attention following the posting of a six-minute motorcycle helmet-cam video of the wild clash.
On Monday, Craig Wright, 29, of Canarsie, Brooklyn, was arrested after he was seen in a video throwing punches through the shattered driver’s-side window of Lien’s Range Rover. He also allegedly kicked Lien after he was pulled to the ground.
Two more suspects are being sought, sources say.