NEW YORK (AP) — A motorcyclist was charged Wednesday with reckless driving after prosecutors said he touched off a tense encounter with the driver of an SUV and a throng of other bikers that ended with blood and broken bones on a Manhattan street.
Christopher Cruz, 28, of Passaic, N.J., declined to comment as he was released on $1,500 bail, facing misdemeanor charges that also include unlawful imprisonment. His attorney, H. Benjamin Perez, said his client denied all the allegations.
“He will come back to fight this case and clear his name,” he said.
Cruz is the only person charged criminally so far in the Sunday encounter that was caught on a helmet-mounted camera worn by another biker and was posted online anonymously.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office decided not immediately to prosecute a second person arrested, Allen Edwards, 42, who surrendered to police on Tuesday. But prosecutors said the investigation continues, and they served notice that they intend to take the case against Cruz to a grand jury — a sign that more serious charges are likely.
Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, the prosecutor overseeing the DA’s investigation, said authorities were trying to build the strongest cases possible.
“Prematurely charging individuals with low-level crimes does not further the goals of the investigation, and could weaken the cases we expect to bring against the perpetrators of serious crimes,” she said.
Prosecutors and police said Cruz was participating in a motorcycle rally speeding along Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Cruz cut in front of a black Range Rover and, still staring at its driver, slowed down so much that the rear tire of his motorcycle bumped the front of the SUV, they said. He got off and approached the SUV, prosecutors said.
Video captured the moment as about two dozen riders slowed down, swarming the SUV and blocking its path. Some dismounted and approached the vehicle. Police said some of the bikers then began damaging the Range Rover.
The SUV driver, who police say was frightened for his family in the car, suddenly lurched forward, plowing over another rider before heading north. The cyclists gave chase, pursuing the driver for about 2.5 miles.