News

Motorcyclist charged in attack on SUV driver

Motorcyclist charged in attack on SUV driver

IN COURT: Christopher Cruz, 28, of Passaic, New Jersey, appears in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, menacing and endangering the welfare of a child, in New York Oct. 2, 2013. Photo: Reuters

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The first motorcyclist to be charged for his alleged role in last Sunday’s attack on an SUV driver who was chased for miles along a Manhattan highway by dozens of bikers was released on bail on Wednesday.

Christopher Cruz, 28, of New Jersey, was freed on $1,500 cash bail on Wednesday after being formally charged with unlawful imprisonment and reckless driving, authorities said.

A second biker who was arrested on Tuesday by New York police and charged in the attack went free on Wednesday, after Manhattan prosecutors declined to pursue a case against him.

Allen Edwards, 43, of the New York City borough of Queens, was charged on Tuesday with criminal mischief, menacing and reckless endangerment after he surrendered himself to the NYPD, authorities said.

On Wednesday, a top prosecutor in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office called the charges against Edwards “premature,” and said the D.A’s office would not prosecute him.

Last Sunday, dozens of motorcycles riding north on Manhattan’s Henry Hudson Parkway halted traffic after a man driving in an SUV with his wife and young child got into a fender bender with one of the bikers.

As the bikers swarmed around the SUV, the driver accelerated suddenly, sending motorcycles flying and reportedly crushing the spine of one biker who was run over.

Dozens of bikers gave chase in a high-speed pursuit into upper Manhattan, where the driver was caught, dragged from the car and viciously beaten in front his wife and child, according to New York police.

Most of the incident was captured on one biker’s helmet-camera video, which was posted to YouTube and went viral.

Authorities believe the motorcyclists who chased the SUV were in town for an unauthorized rally in New York, following a similar gathering last autumn where riders organized online and arrived in large groups in Times Square without permits.

Tensions between law enforcement officials under growing pressure to crack the case spilled into public view on Wednesday with Vance’s refusal to pursue charges brought by the NYPD against Edwards.

Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, Vance’s chief trial prosecutor, said in a statement that the “low-level” charges against Edwards could undermine the more serious case Vance is trying to build against other bikers who remain at large.

Prosecutors want to make a case against the most violent among the bikers, including one man who authorities say attacked the driver, and another who smashed the SUV’s window with his helmet, said a source in Vance’s office.

The source, who requested anonymity in return for speaking, said prosecutors faced different pressures from police.

“This is not ‘Law & Order,’ said the source. “We can’t solve this case in 24 hours.”

An NYPD source defended the decision to charge Edwards as basic to building a case.

“This is not rocket science,” the police source said. “Let’s keep this (case) moving. This is national news.”

Recent Headlines

in Sports

INSTANT REPLAY: The week’s best sports photos

cavaliers

A look back at some of the week's biggest plays in sports and the moments you may have missed.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule

hockey

Here's a look at some of the big sporting events taking place this weekend.

in National

Making headlines this week

AP141543910901_5

A look back at some of the big stories and the headlines you may have missed.

in Sports

Sepp Blatter wins re-election as FIFA president

FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during a press conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. FIFA will not reopen the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and will publish at least some of the confidential report into the bidding process, Blatter said Friday.

Sepp Blatter's FIFA re-election came despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal.

in Sports

WATCH: Preserving Muhammad Ali’s childhood home

15-overlay7

An effort is underway to restore the Louisville home where the boxing legend grew up.