NEW YORK — An undercover New York police detective and another man were found guilty Tuesday of assault for being part of a group of motorcyclists who dragged a driver from his car in Upper Manhattan and beat him in front of his wife and daughter.
But a state Supreme Court judge in Manhattan acquitted the two men of the top charge against them — first-degree gang assault.
The defendants chose to have the judge, Maxwell Wiley, decide their cases rather than a jury. On Tuesday morning, after a three-week trial, Wiley found the detective, Wojciech Braszczok, 34, guilty of second-degree assault, coercion, riot, and criminal mischief. But he rejected the most serious charges, gang assault and first-degree assault, saying the prosecution had not proved the detective shared the intent of the other attackers to hurt the victim.
The other defendant who was on trial, Robert Sims, 36, an electrician, was convicted of attempted gang assault, second-degree assault, coercion, riot, and criminal possession of a weapon.
Wiley allowed the two men to remain free on bail pending their sentencing hearings, which have been scheduled for early August. Braszczok faces a minimum of two years in prison, while Sims faces at least 3½ years.
Lieutenant John Grimpel, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said Braszczok had been “suspended pending termination,” meaning he would be fired.
Nine other bikers involved in the episode had pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for their roles in the attack, which took place on Sept. 29, 2013, during a motorcycle rally that drew hundreds of bikers.
The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said Tuesday that the convictions showed his office’s resolve not to tolerate mob violence.
The victim, Alexian Lien, and his wife, Rosalyn Ng, testified that dozens of motorcyclists first forced their car to stop on a parkway after getting into a minor dispute with them on the road. The couple’s 2-year-old daughter was in the back seat.
When motorcyclists surrounded their car and threatened them, Lien said, he hit the accelerator, running over one of the motorcyclists, Edwin Mieses, and breaking the man’s spine. Scores of bikers gave chase and caught up to Lien’s car.
The attack was recorded by one motorcyclist’s helmet camera and on an iPad belonging to another biker. In one video, Braszczok can be seen punching the back window of the car, then kicking the side panel twice, just before others dragged Lien out.
The video, along with a series of photographs taken by another witness from an apartment window, also show Sims first trying to force Ng from the car, then walking around the rear end and joining the attack on Lien, stomping on him.
Braszczok never touched Lien during the encounter. He testified that he was only trying stop the car from fleeing an accident and that he did not know the other bikers would attack the driver.