Saturday, October 5, 2013

Why Cops Shouldn't Have Guns -- Some of Them Belong to Motorcycle Gangs

So, it has not quite been a week since Alexian Lien was pulled from his SUV and beaten by a gang of motorcyclists. Fox News summarizes the events thusly:

A New York City man who was out driving Sunday celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his wife and 2-year-old daughter was brutally beaten by members of a motorcycle gang in front of his horrified family after a high-speed chase. 
Police said Tuesday morning it remains unclear what caused the confrontation that led to the assault on Alexian Lien. Lien, 33, was left bloodied and had to be hospitalized. But investigators are studying a 6-minute helmet-cam video that shows part of the chase and cuts off just before Lien is pulled out of his luxury SUV and beaten by the mob, The New York Post reported. 
NYPD confirmed the arrest of a biker who they say was involved in the initial accident. Christopher Cruz, 28, was charged with reckless endangerment, menacing, reckless driving and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17. Cruz, who was uninjured, was in custody awaiting arraignment Tuesday and hadn't been assigned a lawyer. 
A second suspect -- Allen Edwards, 42, of Queens -- believed to be the man seen on video striking the Range Rover windows with his fists, surrendered to police on Tuesday. He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and menacing. It was not immediately known if he had a lawyer. 
Law enforcement sources told the New York Post Tuesday that the bikers were trying to slow Lien down so they could get in front of him and take over the West Side Highway. Some bikers had already blocked off a few of the highway's entrances to prevent drivers from entering, the sources said. 
Lien’s first encounter with the bikers shows a group of them taking off their helmets and denting the side of Lien’s SUV, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told The Post. A few other riders slashed the tires. Lien apparently panicked and stepped on the gas. He was surrounded at the time and slammed into a few of the riders, the report said. 
Some bikers stayed behind to tend to their fallen comrades, but others chased Lien’s SUV. 
“He feared for his life and the lives of his wife and daughter,” a police source told The Post. 
The bikers, about 30 or so, chased Lien more than 50 blocks on the West Side Highway, which was recorded on a 6-plus-minute video later posted on YouTube. Lien, however, was driving with damaged tires and was forced to turn off at W. 178th St. in Washington Heights, where the assault occurred, the report said. 
One biker was seen on the video ripping off his helmet and using it to bash in Lien’s driver’s-side window. The crew then pulled Lien from the SUV and beat him on the pavement in front of his wife, Rosalyn Ng, and their 2-year-old daughter, police sources told The New York Post. 
“They went up on the sidewalk. It was just so many of them that they took up the whole street,” one witness told The Daily News.
(A different report, with video, here). So, the basic facts are that the gang was trying (illegally) to block off a portion of the road to do tricks, and started bashing Mr. Lien's car, he panicked, and the chase ensued, with the resulting beating.

NBC News published a story describing these types of gangs in more detail:

A new and dangerous breed of motorcycle gang is popping up around the country, say authorities, as packs of young bikers on high-speed “crotch rockets” barrel down crowded highways performing stunts, weaving through traffic and taunting police, all for a few minutes of Internet glory. 
These “crotch rocket” gangs film their exploits, which can include altercations with motorists and the law, and then post videos on YouTube. Police in New York City have arrested several men after video surfaced on the Web of a Sunday incident in which bikers surrounded and beat an SUV driver in Manhattan. The bikers had been taking part in an underground event called Hollywood Stuntz, in which bikers assembled en masse on city streets to perform wheelies and other stunts. 
And police say they have trouble stopping the bikers, because their machines are so fast and maneuverable that it’s unsafe to chase them through traffic. 
Sgt. Brian Brophy of the New York State Police said that officers will stop pursuits of fast bikes when it’s judged too dangerous. “As a trooper you end up terminating these pursuits a lot yourself, for the safety of the public, yourself and the biker,” he said. 
“You can’t chase them because they’re crazy,” said former New York and Los Angeles chief of police Bill Bratton, now an NBC News analyst. “They endanger themselves and others.” 
The packs have grown as motorcycle registrations have risen – 30 percent between 1990 and 2008 – and as new, high-performance machines that make tricks easier to perform have become available. But these packs, which sometimes come together based on little more than a Tweet or a Facebook post, are not true bike gangs in the old-school sense of the word, explains a federal law enforcement agent. They’re not rooted in neighborhoods, involved in dealing drugs or engaged in long-running feuds with other gangs, like the traditional groups that law enforcement refer to as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs or OMGs. 
The “OMGs” are usually white and sometimes use violence, including shooting or stabbing, to further their cause, explained the law enforcement official. He said that the sport bike crowd skews younger, is loosely affiliated and is racially diverse. 
While these free-form, instant gangs may not be predisposed to violence, he said, a “mob mentality” can take over if they feel threatened, as happened in New York.
In other words, the OMGs stuck to killing their own, while these new gangs threaten the safety of the general public through their dangerous and reckless driving.

So what type of people belong to these gangs? Apparently law enforcement. USA Today reports:

At least one New York police detective was riding with a motorcycle pack that chased and beat an SUV driver Sunday after a road-rage altercation but he did not intervene to stop the attack, law enforcement sources told news organizations. 
One cop was an undercover officer who told superiors he did not get involved or call 911 because he did not want to be exposed, the Daily News and the New York Post reported. Sources told the Post he was not investigating the bikers but waited until Wednesday night to reveal he witnessed bikers attack 33-year-old Alexian Lien in front of his wife and 2-year-old daughter. 
The Post said the undercover officer belongs to a motorcycle club called the Front Line Soldiers, whose members include several police officers. ABC News reported he was working narcotics. 
The Daily News' sources said two officers -- and possibly two or three others -- were among the estimated 20 to 30 motorcyclists on the Henry Hudson Parkway when riders tried to slow traffic. LIen's Range Rover bumped one bike when he was cut off, and he accelerated to escape, hitting several riders and seriously injuring one. 
Several bikers chased Lien four miles before catching up with him in Manhattan traffic, smashing his windows and severely beating him in Washington Heights.
The Daily Mail reports:

At least five off-duty New York Police Department officers have admitted being present at the savage revenge beating last weekend on the Henry Hudson Parkway, according to reports. 
Among the off duty cops were at least two detectives and three other officers, all who witnessed the attack and did little to stop it. One of the detectives, an undercover narcotics officer, watched as the violence broke out and chose not to break it up for fear of ruining his cover.  
The five officers were not the only ones present, WABC is reporting that the NYPD is investigating whether several off-duty corrections officers were also present. Police present for the violent attack did not begin coming forward until Wednesday - four days later.
And buried deep in this story from the Huffington Post was this little tid-bit:

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the motorcyclists were participating in a periodic rally in which well over 1,000 bikers head for Times Square. He said police were caught by surprise by the unpermitted event last year but this year were aware it was taking place and "did a fair amount of enforcement" to break up the processions. 
There were 15 arrests and 55 motorcycles confiscated, he said.
Violating the laws they swore to uphold and protect. They can't be trusted with the powers of a police officer--and certainly shouldn't be allowed firearms in a state where the common person is not.

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