NEW YORK (AP) — A motorcycle rider who was struck by an SUV during a motorcycle rally that turned violent is a family man who was simply trying to defuse a tense situation, his attorney and family members said Friday.
Tears streamed down Dayana Mejia's face during a press conference as she described her longtime partner, Edwin Mieses Jr., as an adoring father to the couple's two children.
"He is the best father I know," she said. "And he would give the shirt off his back to anyone."
Dozens of bikers rode alongside a black Range Rover on Manhattan's West Side Highway last weekend until a biker slowed down and the vehicles bumped, police said. Video captured at the scene shows the SUV surrounded by helmeted riders.
In the video, one rider approaches the vehicle and peers into the driver's side window. Police said others tried to damage the SUV before the driver, Alexian Lien, took off and plowed over Mieses. The bikers then chased after Lien and smashed his car window with their helmets, then pulled him from the SUV and beat him to the point where he required stitches.
Lien's wife, Rosalyn Ng, has said that her family's sympathies go out to Mieses, but that they had to flee a dangerous situation. She said her husband was trying to protect her and their 2-year-old child, who was also in the car at the time.
Mieses, who is from Lawrence, Mass., suffered a broken spine, fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a torn aortic valve, said his defense attorney, Gloria Allred. His injuries may have left him paralyzed.
"He told everyone to move on and go back to riding, and turned his back to the SUV to start walking back to his own bike," Allred said. "It was then, with his back to the SUV, and as he was in front of it, that he was run over and crushed."
Mejia said a difficult situation has been made worse by what she described as a "perception" that some people have about the riders who participated in the rally on Sunday.
"They are not gang members. They are not thugs," Mejia said. "They are FedEx drivers, plumbers, military reservists, musicians. They are fathers and brothers and sons, and sisters and mothers."
She also said Mieses didn't know any of the people he was riding with on Sunday aside from one friend who traveled to New York with him.
Mejia was referred to in media reports as Mieses' wife, but called him her partner Friday.
Allred refused to comment on the fact that Mieses hasn't had a valid driver's license or permit in the state of Massachusetts since 1999. She said it was irrelevant to the case because he wasn't on his motorcycle when he was run over by the SUV.
Mieses was recently arrested in Andover, Mass., for driving with a revoked license. He also never applied for a motorcycle license.
Records show that in June he was named a habitual offender and his right to drive in the state was revoked until 2017. It wasn't clear if he had been licensed in any other state.
Mieses and the others seen on the video were participating in a periodic rally in which more than 1,000 bikers head for Times Square, police said.
The Manhattan district attorney's office has charged one rider, 28-year-old Christopher Cruz, of Passaic, N.J., with unlawful imprisonment and reckless driving while authorities continue to search for other cyclists.
Investigators and prosecutors are tracking down and talking to dozens of helmet-clad motorcyclists seen in the video, which was posted online.