By LINDA KENNEY BADEN
UPDATED OCTOBER 7
Motorcycling in some arenas is now an extreme sport- one that is dangerous. But the viral video of the New York City biker saga has taken possible death and danger from motorcycling to a new level.
When one first hears and sees the news reports of the biker incident, alleging that a group of bikers terrorized a young family- husband, wife with a baby in the car-the immediate reaction is to presume the worst degree of guilt against the bikers. Even though it is clear that one of the bikers may be partially paralyzed for life, the media sympathies have been with Alexian Lien, 33, who was driving his family on a beautiful Sunday in a black Range Rover on the West Side Highway. Shades of those old Charles Bronson movies- the hero escaping from the evil attackers- pops into one’s mind. And that is the wheel spin that has enveloped this tale of an innocent frightened family. And that may be the truth since it initially appears to be supported by the actions of the NYC police department who have not filed any charges against Lien for driving over and seriously injuring biker Jeremiah Edwin Mieses, Jr. from Massachusetts. Mieses, also married and a father, sometimes goes by the rapper moniker Jay Mee-Zee. What would any of us feel like in Lien’s position? Was there more he saw and heard when the bikers stopped his Rover? Those questions have not yet been answered. But I caution everyone not to make a final decision yet on who will be prosecuted and convicted. Because defense lawyers will be working to bring sympathy from the public to the bikers and they may be successful in shifting this public opinion. Let me explain to you what the attorneys for the bikers will be doing.
Let’s start with a very serious fact- the biker Mieses, who was stopped near the front of the Lien SUV to help another biker that may have fallen over, is apparently also a real victim, unless he was aiming a weapon at the family in the car. There is no indication of any such conduct here. Mieses suffered broken legs and other spinal cord injuries that will leave him at best partially paralyzed according to this wife Dayana Mejia-Mieses. His family, supporters and legal team will garner sympathy for him. Already some sites are popping up drawing the public’s attention to this tragedy. Can this sympathy be supported by a frame review of screenshots and witness interviews from the incident?
The WSJ reported an interview of Lexie Filpo, 30, from Queens, a witness, showing a different viewpoint about the inception of the incident. “I preferred to stay behind that car because it just seemed reckless the moment it got on the highway,” she stated. Her viewpoint is a window into the bikers’ mindset, as they may have believed that it was Mr. Lien who may have been the catalyst to the incident by merging onto the West Side Highway in the middle of the bikers putting the bikers in danger with aggressive driving. Filpo continued, “When everybody came to a halt, I stood up to see everything that was going on. The video doesn’t show that people were actually telling him to stop and to slow down,” reflecting a different side to the story that the bikers were trying to slow Lien down because he was driving in the middle of the pack and putting the bikers in danger. The police believe that a biker they have arrested and arraigned, 28 year old Christopher Cruz from my home state of New Jersey, is guilty of at least reckless driving, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, menacing and unlawful imprisonment because he is the rider in fourth screenshot below with a white shirt and helmet that purposely slowed and as a result caused the Rover to tap the biker. This act apparently escalated whatever feelings of harm and perceptions of fear that had already been implanted in Lien. But haven’t we always been told that you slow your car down no matter what if the traveler in front of you slows down? And haven’t we all driven on a high speed highway when the police decide to slow traffic to a crawl by getting in front of cars and then swerving slowly from lane to lane to make all traffic slow down?
The claim that a video did not capture the whole matter has been used in other infamous cases in the past (the Los Angeles police officers defended their beating of Rodney King with that claim). Is this video incomplete? Did something cause the biker who had video capability to start to capture this incident when he did? One of the other bikers has given a media interview where he says the SUV driver (Lien) ‘was a maniac’. Both sides will obtain the original video of the incident. And that video will be enhanced by the best agency- some prosecutors have even used NASA! But what can a frame-by-frame analysis reveal at this point? I am doing initially what the lawyers are doing. I used the video posted by MichelinMan900 linked above and took screenshots at various times: 20, 22, 23, 26, 41, 47, 49, 51, 52, 1.01, 1.14 seconds from the beginning of the posted video using its times to identify the screenshot. Here they are chronological using Pic Frame to keep them in time order.
The below bigger picture at 51 seconds is of the gruesome act where Lien drives his SUV over Mieses. Just before that it you look at the frame at 47 seconds there appears to be another biker down near the right front passenger tire of the Range Rover.
The next below picture is the aftermath screenshot at 52 seconds when the crushed body of Mieses lay in the street.
Then below Lien takes off and at 1.01 seconds there are no bikers in sight- only a white panel truck that had pulled over and can be seen earlier in the video at 49 seconds. The person or persons in this car could be important ear or eyewitnesses. Then an unidentified biker in red catches up to Lien and is seen in the video at 1.14 seconds.
The person who allegedly inflicted the injuries to Lien has now been arrested. While he will likely be convicted of some criminal offense, undoubtedly his defense in a court of law will be to claim his actions were as a result of the heat of passion and extreme emotional upset caused by watching his friend not only be run over by Lien but also by Lien leaving the scene of the accident. Nothing excuses vigilante justice in our legal system. But at the same time, if you saw someone run over your friend or family member, would your judgment be impacted? The West Side Highway is not a movie set. But at the same time, Mieses’ injuries are also very real and the run-over is extremely upsetting to watch. The person who allegedly opened the door allowing the assault on Lien to happen after he was pulled from his car over two miles from the Mieses hit has also turned himself into authorities. He has 21 prior arrests for various serious felony charges but according to the District Attorney did not actually hit Lien. And another person who was at the scene of the battery on Lien is also being questioned by police as to his and others involvement.
Earlier there was a hiccup in the prosecution case. The police had arrested one Allen Edwards, 42, in connection with the attack on Lien but soon after the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined his prosecution suggesting that the decision to charge Edwards may have been a mistake and hinting that his involvement may have been at a lower level. Of course, defense attorneys such as myself are always skeptical of such a dismissal just in case the arrestee may have decided to cooperate with the government. But that does not appear to be the case here at this time.
As more facts are revealed*, we will look at them. From the video I cannot see any colors on the bikers indicating gang involvement, but maybe an enhanced video will show differently. And it is unfair to label everyone in the group as thugs just because the bikers are riding together. There are countless motorcycle rallies across our country where riders come together. It is a sport for many. And one of the bikes later depicted in a still picture from the video appears to be a motor scooter not a motorcycle. And while it has come out that Mieses was allegedly riding without a license, that does not mean someone is absolved from liability for running him over. Lawyers (the Mieses family has hired attorney Gloria Allred obviously to captain the civil case) will look at all these factors to marshall their case. What will the toxicology reports show about all involved? What if Mieses takes a turn for the worse and dies? Does Lien then get charged with manslaughter? Should he also be charged with assault and battery on Mieses? An undercover officer who was riding with the bikers has stated through his lawyer that he followed the Range Rover because he though it was a hit and run. It is unclear if it is him or another police officer biker that has been reportedly arrested for banging on the SUV.
Emotions are running high in this case. But in the interim, while there is additional investigation, do not assume that all these Sunday club bikers were thugs. And do not be surprised at the future twists and turns this case will take. If you are on a jury a few years from now, you may find yourself having sympathy with Lien-understanding his fear whether misplaced or actual- but legally siding with some of the bikers.
*SCM will keep updating this story as more facts are revealed. Please check back.
Categories: Crime | Cycling | Linda Kenney Baden | THE STARTING LINEUP