Lawyer says NYC undercover cop didn't see SUV assault

SUV is seen in video on Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan on Sept. 29, 2013; bikers confronted SUV's driver several times on the tape, and police say driver was then assaulted after tape ended WCBS-TV

NEW YORK An undercover detective attending at a motorcycle rally that devolved into broken bones and blood did not witness a biker get struck by an SUV or see the SUV driver subsequently attacked by bikers, a lawyer said Monday.

The detective joined the pack of riders following the black Range Rover up Manhattan's West Side Highway after it struck motorcyclist Edwin Meises, Jr. because he thought there had been a hit-and-run, said attorney Phil Karasyk with the Detectives' Endowment Association.

He later saw the bikers attacking the SUV but didn't see the motorist pulled from the vehicle and beaten, Karasyk said.

Video captured parts of the encounter, including the moment when about two dozen riders slowed down, swarming the SUV after the driver and a biker bumped. Some dismounted and approached the vehicle, and police said some bikers began damaging the Range Rover.

The driver, Alexian Lien, in the car with his wife and 2-year-old child, took off, striking Mieses before heading north. His wife said they had no other choice but to flee.

Mieses suffered two broken legs and spinal injuries that may leave him paralyzed.

The bikers pursued the driver until the SUV got off the highway and got stuck in street traffic. The video showed one biker smashing the driver's window with his helmet. Police said the group then pulled Lien from the SUV and beat him, although that part isn't shown on the video. He required stitches.

Three bikers have been charged so far, and police continue to investigate. Lien has not been charged.

The detective was off-duty when he joined the Sept. 29 rally, Karasyk said. While off-duty officers are expected to act if they see a crime, undercover officers do so only in rare circumstances.

Karasyk said the detective, who had no gun or badge with him, was conscious of cases where officers blew cover only to be suspended or dismissed for doing so.

"He had no other option, so he drove away," he said.

The detective did not report his presence there until three days later. Chief police spokesman John McCarthy said the officer was stripped of his gun and badge while internal affairs investigates the delay.

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former New York deputy police commissioner, reports the undercover officer was at least one of three cops in the pack of bikers, although it's unclear if the other two also witnessed the assault.

The undercover officer was assigned "to the intelligence division and some of the people there are under deep cover and they're training is, even under pressure, you don't admit who you really are," Miller told "CBS This Morning." He would be in a lot less trouble if he would [have] come forward the first day instead of four days later. Since that, now this is what's happening. They reading (about it) in the papers, they're hearing on television that a police officer has come forward. Two other police officers who were also riding with the group that day. One of whom was a sergeant. That's a supervisor and another of whom is a detective, who is a police officer who is undercover in internal affairs."

The biggest problem the officers face is that they took several days to come forward, a move that could lead to charges of impeding an investigation.

The officers, Miller said, are going to be placed on modified assignments after their stories are weighed. "They could be suspended. This could be grounds for dismissal -- this is the D.A.'s call. If the district attorney looks at their conduct and says that rises to official misconduct, 'Everybody knew this investigation was going forward, we needed this information and these guys didn't step forward as law enforcement officers' -- that could be violation of law."

Police arrested two of the alleged assailants over the weekend, and more arrests could be on the way.

Police say the man seen pulling the Range Rover's door open is 35-year-old Robert Sims, of Brooklyn. And they say the man who later slammed his helmet against the driver's side window is Reginald Chance, 37, also from Brooklyn. Chance, CBS News has learned, already has 21 prior arrests on his record, including robbery and drug charges.

Chance's lawyer Gregory Watts says his client overreacted and broke the window, but denied taking part in the beating. He said, "If you look at the video, you will see my client immediately after smashing the window, returning to his bicycle. And there are still photographs in the possession of the district attorney that will show you that he's not physically present."

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