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N.Y. detective pleads not guilty in motorcycle attack on SUV driver

Detective Wojciech Braszczok (covered) exits Manhattan Supreme Court in New York, November 20, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Detective Wojciech Braszczok (covered) exits Manhattan Supreme Court in New York, November 20, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An undercover New York detective pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to gang assault in connection with an attack on an SUV driver who was chased for several miles along a Manhattan highway by a group of motorcycle riders.

Detective Wojciech Braszczok, 32, arrived in state Supreme Court in Manhattan with his face completely obscured by a wool scarf and left the building the same way. He stood silently through his arraignment on charges of assault, criminal mischief and the most serious, gang assault in the first degree.

In court, prosecutors requested that he be required to give up his American passport and the Polish passport he is believed to hold.

Braszczok is one of 11 motorcyclists charged in a 14 count indictment with pursuing a sport utility vehicle on September 29 driven by a man traveling with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. Riders surrounded the car, smashed the vehicle's windows and dragged the driver Alexian Lien, 33, from the car and beat him in a videotaped incident that went viral on the Internet. (See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztWs7RJ6Ne0 )

The incident began with a fender bender between the Range Rover SUV and one of the motorcyclists traveling north on Manhattan's Henry Hudson Parkway, police said.

Riders pursued the SUV for about 50 blocks, and the incident escalated when the driver accelerated through the crowd of motorcycles, injuring one rider and scattering several bikes.

Braszczok's attorney, John Arlia, declined to comment Wednesday about the case or whether there is more video evidence that will be presented to help clear his client.

The detective, who was arrested about a week after the assault, is free on $150,000 bail. He faces up to 25 years in prison if he is convicted on the top counts.

The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment on the case.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

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