NBC 4 New York
Prosecutors upgraded charges to include gang assault for an undercover NYPD officer who was allegedly involved in a violent fight between a group of motorcyclists and a man driving a Range Rover in Manhattan. Checkey Beckford reports
The off-duty undercover NYPD officer who was allegedly involved in a violent fight between a group of motorcyclists and a man driving a Range Rover has been identified in one of the videos taken that day.
One video shows the biker in a rainbow helmet and black jacket, identified by a law enforcement official as Detective Wojciech Braszczok, get off his motorcycle on the West Side Highway after the SUV, surrounded by bikers, plows through the crowd and speeds off. The video shows the biker get back on his motorcycle as the others begin to pursue the SUV, and he's seen in later video zipping around the passenger side of the car shortly before the driver was pulled out and beaten.
The law enforcement official who identified the biker to NBC 4 New York said the cop is also observed -- on a different video that has not been made public -- punching the back window of the SUV with his fist, shattering it, and then kicking the passenger side door.
Braszczok, 32, turned himself in to police Tuesday evening and was initially charged with riot and criminal mischief, according to police. An upgraded gang assault charge was added Wednesday.
He's not believed to have physically assaulted the driver; he is charged with assault because he was allegedly part of the larger group that carried out the attack.
At court for his arraignment Wednesday, his lawyer John Arlia said the video shows he wasn't part of the assault and that the charges are not deserved.
Braszczok has spent 10 years with the NYPD, the last five as an undercover, including during the Occupy Wall Street movement, according to a law enforcement official.
During his time with Occupy Wall Street, he participated in demonstrations, attended meetings and essentially lived like a protester to provide information to the NYPD, according to the official.
Braszczok came forward last week, several days after the Sept. 29 chase that ended in a fight, to say he was present, according to a source, and did not call 911 when the assault was taking place.
Sources say Braszczok was not truthful with investigators about his role.
Undercover officers are required to immediately report being a witness to a crime. Uniformed officers are required to take police action if they see a crime occurring, but the rules are murkier for undercover officers who face blowing their cover, confusing civilians who don't realize the undercover is really a cop and ruining years-long investigations.
It is not clear why Braszczok was riding with the group of motorcyclists.