New York — On Wednesday, Edwin Mieses, Jr. arrived at Manhattan’s St. Luke Hospital with severely damaged lungs, broken legs, numerous lacerations, and spinal injuries. There is a high probability that Mieses might never walk again.
As New York City Police Department [NYPD] investigates the events surrounding the motorcyclist, these facts are known:
- Mieses was riding along West Side Highway as a part of a motorcycle club.
- Alexian Lien, driver of a Range Rover, willfully drove his vehicle through a crowded space, running over Mieses.
- A chase pursued with fellow motorcycle club members catching up to Lien, where an altercation ensued.
- As of yet, no charges have been filed against Lien, while club member Christopher Cruz, of Passaic, N.J., was charged with second-degree unlawful imprisonment and reckless driving.
And one can be sure of the trajectory of the legal proceedings from Lien’s perspective, at least. Fear. Fear that no one can substantiate, but asserted nonetheless. Set forth to justify his actions as Mieses lays in a hospital room, clinging for life. Actions that leave a wife to face great uncertainty. Actions that leave yet another mother wondering how could this happen. All justified by the claim of fear.
And while Mieses did not die as a result of the encounter, actions that could reasonably lead to death are taken by citizens, armed with a growing history of Americans either not prosecuted or exonerated in violent encounters.
On Thursday, the Lien family released a statement that claimed Lien was in a “life-threatening” situation. The family went on to say, “We know in our hearts that we could not have done anything differently, and we believe that anyone faced with this sort of grave danger would have taken the same course of action in order to protect their family.”
It should sound familiar. These words have risen to the level of a canned political speech of copycat vigilantes in a climate of judicial consolidation that welcomes each citizen to be judge, jury, and executioner. Social media is a buzz with commentary that indicts the motorcyclists. And to the extent the media is covering the events involved, much is placing undue attention on the street brawl that occurred after motorcyclists caught-up with Lien. The SUV driver went home to his family on the night of the encounter with minor injuries. The person run over by the SUV driver is not so fortunate.
Some readily point to a rider that supposedly “slowed down” in front of the fleeing SUV. This focus ignores more than it sees. It ignores the fact that other riders, some two or three car-lengths away were also looking back, which strongly suggests something had happened with the SUV before the cameras were rolling. It also ignores the reality of an event happening in real-time that left a club member clinging to life. I suspect few, if lying in the street bleeding profusely, would criticize a friend taking the courageous act to slow down the instrument of their injury.
And while no one should cheer the beating that Lien later took, I wonder how Lien might have responded had he seen a friend run over by an SUV and the driver speeding away from the scene. Hence, the problem.
How does the public determine that Lien was in a life-threatening situation at the time of him choosing to run over Mieses? Was it life-threatening because a large number of motorcycle riders were in his presence? Should we consider the situation dangerous without Lien being required to give a full account of the events that led up to event?
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“There’s no hope for his back. They crushed his spine. They broke it in two different places, so he will be forever, forever paralyzed.”
What are we to make of the motorcyclists’ account that Lien had clipped one of the riders which set off the chain of events? Is this account summarily dismissed in the court of public opinion and by investigators? After all, one of the riders on the scene stated, “We’re not savages, we’re not animals. We’re just average people that love to ride.”
NYPD Commission Ray Kelly, while not ruling out charges against Lien, revealed a potential bias in the matter. He noted that the motorcycle rider did not have a permit to move along the freeway in such large numbers. This is not relevant to Lien’s actions as the SUV hit-and-run driver did not have knowledge of the group’s permit or lack thereof. And the non-possession of the permit would have no bearing on actions that Lien might have taken to spark the encounter. Discussing permits, however, could bias future juries with information that might or might not be presented in various related cases.
The public should likewise look for answers to several additional disturbing questions. For instance, Commissioner Kelly stated that his department had received a number of reports of supposedly menacing bikers. Why did NYPD not dispatch cruisers to the area prior to the chain of events in-question? Further, Lien took it upon himself to act as he did. If other drivers reported the problem and did not run over bikers at-will, why would Lien be given leniency?
These events also raise questions about unequal protection under the law. We need not go into gender disparities that occur in deadly force cases. That is, would any of us suggest that law enforcement would hesitate in the slightest sense had Edwin Mieses been, let’s say, Carol Johnson or Margaret Weiner?
Another unequal protection deals with vehicle discrimination. Namely, when we are driving down our local freeways, how often do we ponder, “All these cars driving near one another. Should I be suspicious of them?” Why would motorcycle riders be the target of visceral disdain? Indeed, Lien was driving a black SUV. Some pretty unsavory characters, drug traffickers, and otherwise have been known to deal drugs from SUVs, do drive-by shootings from inside SUVs, and cruise around communities in SUVs, checking on their street thugs. Having run over a friend, why would the other club members have any less fear of Lien? And as for the baby and woman inside, when has that even guaranteed a vehicle does not also have inside a person or persons who might be prone to spraying a crowd with bullets or using their vehicle like a deadly weapon?
We do not know all the precipitated events that surrounded Lien running over Mieses with his SUV. But we can wager with a high degree of certainty that the existence of Kill and Claim laws encourage more encounters. More injuries and death. And even more weapons to carry out their attack. An SUV is but the beginning of the unfolding story.
CORRECTION — October 05, 2013
The notice of the above article stated that that Edwin Mieses, Jr. was riding along West Side Highway in New York as part of a motorcycle club.
Details have emerge that correct this and related statements, clarifying that while a club was involved in the incidents, Mieses was not a member. He only knew one other motorcyclist — a friend who traveled with him to New York. Mieses was attempting to both move traffic along and diffuse the situation. In the video, attorney Gloria Allred provides details.
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