Wojciech Braszczok, 32, an undercover police officer with the New York Police Department and ten year NYPD veteran, was arrested Tuesday on riot and criminal mischief charges in connection with the attack on a SUV driver by a pack of motorcyclists. So far six participants in the attack on Alexian Lien have been charged. Braszczok (pronounced brass-chuck) was one of at least three NYPD officers who participated in the ride and were present at the incident. He is expected to be arraigned in court on Wednesday. Officer Braszczok’s lawyer said before the arrest that the detective was simply a witness but police sources told the Associated Press that videos of the attack show Braszczok punching the SUV’s back window, already damaged, and then kicking the SUV twice before leaving the scene.
Braszczok’s failure to report his presence at the bike ride and attack for three days after it happened drew suspicion from NYPD Internal Affairs. Undercover NYPD officers are under no obligation to act if they witness a crime but they are expected to report it. Braszczok’s attorney, hired for him by the Detectives’ Endowment Association union, said that his client was not carrying his badge or gun on the ride and that he was aware of cases where officers were disciplined or fired for blowing their covers. Braszczok ”had no other option, so he drove away,” his attorney said.
Because of the arrest, Braszczok has been suspended from the department. CBS News’ local New York affiliate reported that another police officer taking part in the ride was narcotics detective, Samir Gonsalves. Detective Gonsalves was in the news back in April when he was arrested for allegedly pushing an officer who was trying to break up a domestic dispute between Gonsalves and his girlfriend.
CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller, a former New York City deputy police commissioner, reported that one of the officers being investigated was an undercover officer assigned to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs department. It’s not clear if that is the same person as Braszczok. “The irony there, of course, is they’re the ones who track down police for misconduct,” Miller said on the CBS This Morning television show. “He’s been assigned there about three weeks. He hadn’t started his undercover assignment yet, but he was riding along. And he is talking to his lawyers about whether to meet with prosecutors or be questioned by police. So the NYPD hasn’t interviewed him yet.”
Additionally, the NYPD on Tuesday released images of four more motorcyclists considered persons of interest in the case. In addition to Braszczok, the riders so far arrested include Craig Wright, Christopher Cruz and Reginald Chance.