Will New York road-rage incident turn into self-defense case?

(CBS News) Police in New York say the motorcyclist who took video of a weekend road rage assault is now helping the investigation, and new photos appear to show the man who broke the side window of an SUV with his helmet. He is still at large.

A big question in the case is whether the driver of the SUV, Alexien Lien, will be charged. Biker Edwin "Jay" Mieses was critically injured when Lien plowed through several motorcycles. Police say Mieses broke both his legs as well as suffered spinal injuries that may leave him paralyzed.

About five minutes later, after a high-speed chase, police said that the bikers pulled Lien out of the SUV and attacked him. He received stitches and was released from the hospital. Police have not ruled out charging Lien for running over the bikers.

CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that there was a similar question of self-defense in the George Zimmerman case where he was ultimately charged.

"Somebody was seriously injured here as a result of him driving his vehicle, and a vehicle can be a weapon under certain circumstances," said Ford. "But clearly his lawyers and even the prosecutors are looking at this, saying is this an instance of self-defense, where unfortunately someone got hurt."

Ford said that the standard for assessing a situation like this is to understand if the person's conduct was reasonable, if there was a fear for one's own safety and if the conduct was proportional to that fear.

"I'm sure his lawyers are going to say, 'He's surrounded, he's terrified, he's trying to get away, it's unfortunate somebody got hurt, but if that person hadn't been there in the first place this never would have happened,'" Ford said.

Meanwhile, prosecutors say one of the two suspects arrested this week will not be charged right now.

Twenty-eight-year-old Christopher Cruz appeared in court Wednesday to face charges of reckless driving and unlawful imprisonment. Cruz got right in front of the SUV and forced it to slow down, and within seconds the bikers had forced the black Range Rover to a standstill.

Ford said that often prosecutors will wait to move forward with a charge until they have everything ready to go because when they make an arrest the clock starts to run.

"It's not unusual for prosecutors to say - and the prosecutor has said this - we are going to take this to the grand jury, we're going to look for serious charges, but we don't want to be premature in that we want to make sure we have everything lined up," Ford said.

For Jack Ford's full interview, watch the video in the player above.

Comments

Follow Us

The Newsroom