NEW YORK - He was a police officer who was so strongly trusted that he was recruited into the NYPD's deepest undercover unit. Now, though, Officer Wojciech Braszczok is a convict, found guilty of multiple charges for his role in the biker gang assault of an SUV and the family riding inside two years ago.
Throughout the trial of Braszczok, 34, and his fellow biker and co-defendant Robert Sims, 36, the undercover officer appeared at court wearing a mesh hood to protect his identity. He was best known, prior to his trial, for having his head covered with a motorcycle helmet. That's how he was seen in GoPro video shot by a fellow biker on the fateful day in the fall of 2013 on which the assault involving dozens of bikers took place.
It was on September 29, 2013 when Braszczok and Sims were part of the crowd of bikers who surrounded the SUV driven by Alexian Lien, with his wife, Roslyn Ng, and their two year-old daughter in the car.
The bikers, many of whom did not have license plates on their motorcycles, had slapped cars, run red lights, popped wheelies and otherwise intimidated other motorists on the West Side Highway when they encountered Lien's SUV and surrounded it.
According to prosecutors, at least one motorbike, driven by Christopher Cruz, who was later found guilty and sentenced to four months in jail on assault and riot charges, decelerated in front of Lien's SUV on the West Side Highway, near 122nd Street.
According to the prosecutor's account, "The deceleration caused the front of Lien's vehicle to make contact with the back of Cruz's bike, drawing the attention of several other riders, who surrounded the vehicle and blocked its movement. Several riders then dismounted and closed in on the vehicle while threatening Lien and his family."
Lien stepped on the gas pedal as bikers closed in on him and his family, smashed his rear view mirror and at least one biker made a throat slashing gesture. The SUV barreled over at least one biker, ultimately leaving him paralyzed.
The SUV escaped up the West Side Highway, and came to a stop near Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights. That's where a biker grabbed the SUV's door and opened it. That biker was Sims.
He had already been in jail for a year and a half before posting bail while awaiting trial, but on Tuesday morning, the judge found Sims guilty of attempted gang assault in the first degree, and a variety of lesser assault related charges.
As for Officer Braszczok, the judge found him not guilty of the most serious charges against him. However, after the SUV on that late September day ended up stuck in traffic on 178th Street, 11 people, including Sims and Braszczok attacked the vehicle and the driver, Lien, leaving him unconscious. Sims physically attacked Lien, while Braszczok smashed and kicked the SUV.
The judge found the Braszczok guilty of second degree assault and second degree criminal mischief, as well as first degree rioting. They were not the most serious charges he'd faced, but they were all felonies. Still, Braszczok's attorney seemed pleased with the outcome.
"Felony assault is a charge that in the course of a felony," he said in a statement outside of court, "someone is hurt, but it is not by your specific hand." In other words, his client, Officer Braszczok, did not directly attack Lien and his family, and the judge had acknowledged that.
Sentencing in the case is set for August 5th for Braszczok and August 6th for Sims.