NYC motorcycle road rage incident may have ruined a large investigation

Last Updated Oct 9, 2013 11:45 AM EDT

(CBS News) There were two more arrests in the biker road rage case in New York. One suspect is an undercover police detective, and has been charged in the attack. He is allegedly seen on video hitting and kicking an SUV, before the driver, Alexian Lien, was attacked.

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CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former deputy commissioner with the New York Police Department, said on "CBS This Morning": "This is a story that starts out as not such a good day (for the NYPD) because they had a detective on the scene who was undercover, who took no action to intervene, and then waited four days to come forward and say, 'I was there.' That got worse (on Tuesday) when they reviewed the videotapes they received this week from other sources other than the YouTube video we first saw, and they see their own detective allegedly banging out the back window of the SUV during the incidents that led up to the man being dragged from the car. So that really changed the calculus from, was this a departmental matter to a criminal matter."

Turning to the police detective's undercover status, Miller said not breaking cover is one of the officer's primary jobs, but added, "that doesn't mean that you can't get in the middle and say, 'Hey guys, break it up,' or 'let's stop this.' You don't have to jump out and say, 'I am a secret police officer'. "

However, the officer was not only not intervening, he was allegedly part of the melee.

"There's something else here...he's an undercover from the intelligence division, those undercovers are involved in deep penetrations, terrorist cases, organized crime groups," Miller said. "There's probably a case that may have a year or two years or who knows how long invested in it where this person is at the center of the investigation as an undercover where the bad guys just looked up and said, 'Hey, we haven't seen that guy, where is he?' and when his name and face comes out, it won't be the same name they know."

"CTM" co-host Charlie Rose said it could lead to "a lot of hard work down the drain."

Miller said it could be worse than that, "and possibly something that could be prevented in terms of a plot or something else that they now have to go to Plan B for."

Other police officers may also be investigated -- perhaps five or six others, whose identities are known, but who may have been riding with the group of motorcyclists at one point or another or may have been present during different parts of these incidents.

"So you've got the one who was arrested yesterday, you have another undercover officer from the Internal Affairs Division who was there for part of it. You have two officers who were identified as being there, but not necessarily at the assault, maybe somewhere earlier, and you have yet one more after that," Miller said. "So they're going to be going through this process in order to say. 'Who was where, who did what, who saw what?'"

The riders, Miller also noted, were not part of a bike gang "per se."

"This was a day where motorcycles were -- this is their marauding through New York day and it involves a number of motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts," he said. "This group on the West Side Highway wasn't all one group. This was a number of motorcyclists who seemed to have found each other, and were riding together, and this got out of control."

For more with Miller on this case, watch his full interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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