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Manhattan grand jury gets more time to probe wild motorcycle chase

October 04, 2013|By Michael Muskal

A grand jury in New York has been given an extension to act on the wild chase that resulted in the beating of an SUV driver and serious injuries to a motorcyclist, officials said Friday.

Christopher Cruz, the only person to be charged in the incident, briefly made a return appearance in court on Friday. It had been expected that the grand jury would report on the same day, but prosecutors said further action will be delayed until Oct. 24 to allow more time for investigation.

There have been reports in the New York media that some of the motorcyclists involved in the chase up Manhattan’s West Side and the beating of the driver of the black Range Rover have been identified. Officials connected to the investigation said there has been no further action toward charging anyone else in the case.

Cruz, of Passaic, N.J., is charged with reckless driving and misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment, but the grand jury could return a felony indictment or charge others in the case.

Meanwhile, celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred has joined the legal team representing Edwin “Jay” Mieses, 33, a motorcyclist who was listed in critical condition with spinal injuries and broken legs after he was run over by the SUV in Sunday’s confrontation. Allred was not available for comment, according to her office.

The Mieses family issued a statement this week saying that Allred has joined the legal team. Among other celebrated cases, she has been involved in high-profile discrimination suits involving complaints against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

Video of Sunday's incident has gone viral. It was shot by one of the motorcyclists riding on Sunday.

The video shows an SUV driven by Alexian Lien traveling the center lane on the West Side Highway when the motorcyclists pass on either side. One motorcyclist in the center lane slows down and makes contact with the SUV. That motorcycle driver was later identified as Cruz, 28.

After the contact between Cruz and the SUV, the Range Rover accelerates on the video and hits another biker, Mieses.

Mieses is seriously injured, according to his family. His wife, Dayana, has told reporters that her husband is in a medically induced coma. His family and friends have established a Facebook page to help raise money for his medical treatment.

In the video, the Range Rover speeds along the highway, chased by the group of motorcyclists. Lien leaves the highway and continues on a nearby street, stopping at a red light. Motorcyclists jump off of their bikes and rush the SUV. At least one uses his helmet to smash the driver’s-side window on the SUV, and another is seen pounding on another window.

Lien was eventually taken from the SUV and beaten, police said.

In a statement earlier this week, the Lien family defended its actions.

“Our sympathies go out to the injured motorcyclist and his family. However, we were faced with a life-threatening situation, and my husband was forced under the circumstances to take the actions that he did in order to protect the lives of our entire family,” the statement said. ”We believe that anyone faced with this sort of grave danger would have taken the same course of action in order to protect their family.”

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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