(NEW YORK) — The 28-year-old biker accused of starting a bloody encounter between a group of bikers and an SUV driver on a New York highway says he does not feel responsible for the attack.
Christopher Cruz, a car wash worker, was captured on tape cutting off a Range Rover driven by Alexian Lien on the West Side Highway in Manhattan last month. Lien, driving with his wife and 2-year-old in the car, was eventually pulled out of his car and beaten by other motorcyclists traveling with Cruz, police said.
“I never had intentions to slow him down or cause any type of problems,” Cruz told ABC News’ Dan Harris in his first sit-down interview. “I don’t think I feel responsible.”
Cruz, a father of two, has been charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful imprisonment for his role in the incident. The charges could land him up to one year in prison.
“It has turned my life upside down,” Cruz said, adding that he is worried about what could happen to him and doesn’t know if he can win his case.
The video police used to charge Cruz shows his motorcycle slowing in front of Lien’s SUV as Lien, 33, his wife and 2-year-old drove down the highway on their way to a wedding anniversary celebration around 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 29. Lien’s SUV was quickly surrounded by the motorcyclists, who were doing an annual ride through the city, police said.
The group of motorcyclists then slowed down further and surrounded the SUV, causing Lien to accelerate away from the group.
In the video Cruz is seen next to the SUV looking and appears to be exchanging glances with the driver before pulling his bike out in front.
“I was trying to get his attention to make sure he sees me before I pulled in front of him,” Cruz said. “He never looked back at me.”
The video then shows Cruz crossing into the middle lane, looking back over both shoulders and then slowing down, resulting in the collision with Lien’s SUV.
“[It was] never my intention to make him stop,” Cruz said. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong with just turning into another lane. The other bikes are going as slow as I am.”
“I was looking over my shoulder to see where my friends were,” he said. “I wanted them to pull in front so I could follow them. I didn’t brake but when I looked over my shoulder, my hand came off the throttle a little, but the driver didn’t slow down at all and bumped me.”
Cruz told ABC News’ Harris that both he and Lien stopped and he approached Lien for an explanation.
“He looked straight ahead and never made eye contact with me,” Cruz said. “So I just went back to my bike and when I was getting on he took off.”
Lien’s wife, Rosalyn Ng, said that her husband feared for their lives when he decided to take off to get away from the group. As he sped off, Lien hit some of the motorcyclists, critically injuring one, authorities said.
Other motorcyclists chased Lien’s SUV and then bashed in his windows, pulled him out of the car, and beat him, police said.
Lien required stitches in his face for injuries sustained in the attack. He has not been charged with any crime.
“I do feel badly for the family that got hurt,” said Cruz, who suffered minor injuries in the crash and whose bike was damaged.
Two off-duty New York police officers were riding with the biker group and the NYPD is investigating why the cops apparently did not intervene, authorities said.
In addition to Cruz, two other men have been charged in the attack. Robert Sims, 35, who allegedly grabbed the SUV’s door about five minutes into the video, turned himself in to police Friday in Brooklyn, NYPD officials said. He faces charges of gang assault, assault and criminal possession of a weapon, according to police.
Sims was arrested in 1998 for possession of a loaded firearm and a samurai sword. He served eight months in jail, police said.
Reginald Chance, 38, of Brooklyn, also surrendered to police late Friday. He allegedly was the man seen on video using his helmet to smash the driver’s side window of the Range Rover before the video cut off and the alleged assault took place.
Chance appeared in court on Sunday and raised both middle fingers to cameras and others inside the courtroom as he was arraigned.
Cruz told ABC News he does not know Chance or Sims, the two individuals charged with attacking Lien, and was not at all involved in the ensuing chase.
Cruz’s attorney believes his client was arrested because of the furor of media attention surrounding the incident.
“I think that they needed to make an arrest to satisfy the public,” the attorney, H. Benjamin Perez, told ABC News. “He didn’t brake. The video shows that,” Perez said. “He was not trying to entrap Mr. Lien and go up against an almost four-ton vehicle while he was on two wheels.”
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