Wojciech Braszczok, the undercover police detective
accused of having punched in a car window during last Sunday's beating of a driver by a group of motorcyclists in New York City
, was arraigned in court Wednesday, where he faced charges of rioting and criminal mischief.
Braszczok, a 10-year NYPD veteran, was off duty when he joined a motorcycle rally that spiraled into violence the Sunday before last.
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In the incident, 33-year-old Alexian Lien was dragged from his car in front of his wife and 2-year-old and severely beaten in Washington Heights after having reportedly hit two motorcycles and apparently run over a biker in his apparent attempt to flee the scene of an accident on Manhattan's West Side Highway.
In a video obtained by police, Braszczok is reportedly seen punching in a window that was already damaged, which the defendant's attorney, John Arlia, argued exonerated his client with respect to the charges that had been filed against him.
"The allegation is that he struck the rear portion hatchback window, which has a gaping hole already in it; it’s already destroyed," attorney John Arlia said. "Under the law, it’s a fatal flaw. You can’t break what’s already broken."
Investigators note that after allegedly punching the car window in, Braszczok then kicked the SUV twice before exiting the scene, The Associated Press reported
The video also shows that Braszczok did not participate in the actual beating of the driver and was not near the scene when Lien was dragged out of his car and assaulted, the AP reported.
Braszczok took three days to report his presence at the rally to his higher-ups, at which time he was stripped of his gun and badge, according to police spokesman John McCarthy.
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In the case, the prosecution argued that Braszczok played a role in the assault by striking the SUV and failing to stop the crime – a requirement of an off-duty police officer – being that he did not call 911 as the incident unfolded.
According to Assistant District Attorney Samantha Turino, Braszczok initially told investigators that he had not seen the attack only to later change his story, saying he was at the scene but did not participate.
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