(CBS News) A second undercover police officer is coming forward in the biker road-rage case in New York City. He says he was part of the motorcycle ride that ended with an attack on the driver of an SUV.
Undercover police officer Matt Rodriguez, 28, has worked in plainclothes fighting crime in New York City’s subways and was recently assigned to an elite undercover unit in Internal Affairs, the New York Police Department unit that fights police corruption. But when CBS News met Rodriguez at the district attorney’s office Tuesday, he was the one on the hot seat, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reported on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.
Rodriguez and his lawyer, Pat Bonanno, emerged from a meeting with prosecutors after more than an hour of discussions over the case of the motorcycle assault against SUV driver Alexian Lien in front of his wife and child. Rodriguez said he had nothing to do with the assault.
Miller asked Rodriguez, “How hard has this been going through this, especially with all the attention?”
Rodriguez said, “It has been difficult, but I can only take it one day at a time from now on.”
Rodriguez is now the second New York City undercover officer to come forward to say he was riding with the group that was involved in the assault. Just last week, the first undercover New York City detective who came forward was charged with assault, riot and criminal mischief after investigators said he lied about his role in the attack on the SUV. The lawyer for Rodriguez says his client’s story checks out.
Miller asked, “What you told him was you weren’t there for any assault, you weren’t part of any assault, you didn’t even witness any assault?”
Bonanno interrupted, saying, “John, with all due respect, I’m gonna stop you right there.”
Bonanno says his client had fallen to the rear of the pack of motorcycles and that he didn’t see the confrontation where the SUV was surrounded by motorcycles and drove over two of them to escape.
Rodriguez reportedly told investigators he took a different exit off the highway to visit his grandfather in a nursing home, so he was never even on the street where the final assault took place.
Bonanno said, “Police Officer Matt Rodriguez voluntarily presented himself to the Manhattan district attorney’s office to answer any and all questions and concerns the had regarding his alleged involvement of the incidents of September 29th. It appears hat the district attorney’s office will discover, as we have known from day one, that there are no acts of criminality on behalf of Matthew Rodriguez.”
Asked how it felt to sit down with investigators and get his story out, Rodriguez said, “I was just glad to be given the opportunity to actually say my piece.”
Miller asked Bonanno, “Is it appropriate for police officers to be part of some motorcycle gang?”
“Number one, this is not a motorcycle gang,” Bonanno said. “Frontline Soldiers was a small group of law enforcement individuals and former veterans. NYPD itself has a motorcycle club, so he was part of an organization of other law enforcement individuals that he thought was involved in charitable organizations and charitable things.”
Miller added on “CBS This Morning” that Rodriguez has not been suspended or put on modified assignment, which is assigned to desk duty without a badge or a gun, but prosecutors do have other questions for him, including what contact he did or didn’t have with other officers before, during and after the assault. And the police department, in their internal investigation, will also want to know why he waited as long as he did to come forward when the investigation was highly publicized.