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Nation/World

October 7, 2013

DA: Motorcyclist had key role in NYC SUV brawl

NEW YORK — A motorcyclist accused of smashing a window and catalyzing a bloody encounter between a group of bikers and an SUV driver was arraigned yesterday on gang assault and other major charges, while his lawyer said the motorcyclist’s role in the headline-grabbing case was unfairly overplayed.

The fourth person arrested so far in a case held up as a highway nightmare, Reginald Chance, was being held on $75,000 cash bail. Prosecutors said he played a key role in the SUV driver’s beating, which came after the driver ran over a biker in what the motorist’s family said was fear for his life.

While Chance didn’t participate in the beating, by shattering the SUV’s driver’s-side window, he “set into motion a chain of events that resulted in the driver being dragged out of his vehicle and beaten” by others, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Samantha Turino said.

Chance’s lawyer, Gregory Watts, acknowledged that his client broke the window in a burst of anger after the SUV’s door knocked him earlier in the encounter that went from a Manhattan highway to a neighborhood street. Video shows Chance then got on his motorcycle and left, and he didn’t hit SUV driver Alexian Lian or encourage anyone else to do so, Watts said.

“This is not a man riding around assaulting people with a quote-unquote ‘gang,’” Watts said. “We will hotly contest those allegations.”

In a Sept. 29 encounter seen partly on online video, a group of motorcyclists participating in a rally crossed paths with Lien, who was out for a drive to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife and their toddler. One biker, Christopher Cruz, cut off the SUV and slowed in front of it, and it bumped his motorcycle’s rear tire, police and prosecutors said. Cruz is fighting misdemeanor charges including unlawful imprisonment.

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