Legal Ordeal Continues for Driver Assault Victim Ray Bengen

da_ticket.jpg

Ray Bengen had his day in Manhattan Criminal Court this morning, but it might not be his last appearance at 100 Centre Street. Hit with a potential "criminal mischief" charge by the Manhattan DA’s office after getting doored, bruised, and screamed at by an SUV driver in the Ninth Avenue bike lane (allegedly this man: Gus Gonzalez), Bengen learned today that his case is "not ready to proceed at this time." Essentially, he’s in legal limbo while the DA’s office decides whether or not to prosecute.

It should be an easy call. The eyewitness who snapped these photos confirms Bengen’s account of the incident on May 21. He was riding down the Ninth Avenue protected bike lane. As he tried to maneuver around a Ford Excursion stopped in the bike lane, the 7,000-lb. car started to turn into his path. To get the driver’s attention and avert catastrophe, Bengen slapped the side of the car, then promptly got knocked to the pavement as the driver opened his door. The driver proceeded to repeatedly yell "Don’t even think about it!" as Bengen lay bruised on the sidewalk, before getting back in the car and driving off without waiting for the authorities to arrive.

Bengen later received a desk appearance ticket for criminal mischief (accompanied by a cuffing down at the precinct), supposedly on account of any property damage sustained by the SUV when the driver opened its door into his path. The ticket instructed Bengen to appear in criminal court today, where he learned that the case is not ready to proceed. Bengen must wait for a future communication from the DA’s office to find out if he will be prosecuted.

Bengen sent us a form printed on the letterhead of Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, which states:

The prosecution of the criminal action with regard to your Desk Appearance Ticket is not ready to proceed at this time. However, the case against you may be re-instated. If that should occur, the New York County District Attorney’s Office will notify you by mail to appear in court on a future date. Your failure to respond to a future notification to appear in court may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

After a review of your case, the District Attorney’s Office may decide not to reinstate your case and may instead decide to decline to prosecute your case, which means that your case will not go forward. If you have not heard from the District Attorney’s Office in 90 days or more, you may call (212) XXX-XXXX for information regarding whether the District Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute your case.

The third degree assault charge against Gus Gonzalez is also not ready to proceed, according to the DA’s office, which declined to comment on the specifics of either case.

  • fdr

    The DA hasn’t been ready to proceed against the guy who murdered Etan Patz for 30 years.

  • Christopher

    Has anyone been able to find out who at the DA’s office OK’s Bengen’s arrest in the first place? This is where the abuse of power started in this case, and this is where some heads should roll.

  • Sounds like good news to me. Any day that I don’t have to go to court is a good one.

  • Bill from Brooklyn

    Do we know if Bengen has an attorney working on a potential civil action against Gonzalez for his alleged assault?

  • As the last graf of your report indicates, both parties are getting the “not ready to proceed” treatment, perpetuating the impression that the person who wielded the door and the one who got the bruises are equal in the eyes of the law. If this is as far as it goes, “the law is a ass.”

  • Norman

    I have a feeling that two things are happening. Who ever approved these charges to be filed is getting a chewing out for wasting valuable time and money. Especially after reviewing the pictures. They may also be using this as a way to dampen Mr. Gonzalez’s enthusiasm to move the charges against Mr. Bengen to trial. Lets see how badly he wants to press charges in 90 days.

  • Omri

    They could also be hoping that if they wait a while, they can send Gonzalez and Bengen two fuhgeddaboudits and not have this and other blogs comment about it.

    Perhaps a mention of this case on every Weekly Carnage will show the DA’s office that they are mistaken.

  • While the Manhattan DA’s office is trying to decide whether or not to prosecute Ray Bengen for trying to keep from getting run over and then getting doored intentionally, maybe they should read this.

  • Robert chambers

    If they decide not to proceed then Ray’s arrest and record thereof needs to be completely expunged. Having an arrest (even if not a conviction) can close doors to employment and such. This arrest was bogus from the start so it needs to get all traces of it removed right away.

    You’d think that the case against Gus bagadonuts would continue as there’s ample “evidence” and witness testimony to prove what happened. The fact that he left the scene of an accident is telling. That’s a felony if I am not very much mistaken.

  • S. Sotomayor

    Article the eighth [Amendment VI]

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial

  • Government in America has been wildly unconstitutional in most respects for longer than our parents have been alive. Have you noticed that you don’t even get a trial for many “infractions” these days?

    The state tries to weasel around the 8th/14th amendment requirements by saying “well it’s not a crime, therefore.” It’d be pathetic and sad if it weren’t such a hazard to civil society.

  • Jon Quimbly

    Ray Bengen has witnesses on his side, so you would think he’d prevail, but the cops and the DA don’t often work that way.

    I once was assaulted while covering a labor demonstration in Manhattan (for radio and internet.) The perp, who was clearly enraged at my presence, shoved me several times while screaming at me, then yanked the mic out of my hand, taking with it the expensive minidisc recorder to which it was attached, slamming both of them into a wall – wrecking both. About $600 in damaged gear. He then grabbed for the Nikon SLR camera around my neck, so I slugged him in the face, twice – that stopped him, justifiably.

    When the police responded, they told me I was up for a misdemeanor assault charge. No witnesses stepped forward until the aftermath, when a handful of my assailants coworkers said that I had instigated the altercation (the perp was on the management side in the labor dispute.)

    When I showed up to the precinct for an interview with a detective, she told me that we were both being considered for the same charge. She pointedly suggested that I consider dropping the charges, and in return my charges would also be dropped.

    With no witnesses I had no other choice, so I dropped the charges. Neither of us were arrested.

    I now carry a pocket digital camera with HD video capability wherever I go, whether as a reporter (hanging around my neck), riding my bike (attached to the handlebars), or walking down the street. Memory’s cheap, the batteries last a couple of hours and nothing refutes a liar like video.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

DA Offers Plea to Road Rager Gonzalez

|
The DA’s office has not contacted the witness who took this photograph of Gus Gonzalez last May. At a hearing in criminal court on Monday, Manhattan prosecutors offered a plea deal to Gus Gonzalez, the driver who assaulted cyclist Ray Bengen in the Ninth Avenue bike lane last May. Gonzalez had been charged with third […]

Road Rage Victim’s Reputation Smeared Until Proven Innocent

|
Ray Bengen, pictured on the sidewalk below his assailant, is paying a steep price for defending himself while riding in the Ninth Avenue bike lane. Following Brad’s post last week about one pedestrian’s encounter with an enraged driver and the NYPD, I caught up with Ray Bengen, another New Yorker charged with criminal mischief after […]

Status Report: Ninth Avenue Road Rage Case

|
As reader Omri noted in the comments on the calendar post, this week cyclist Ray Bengen and SUV driver Gus Gonzalez have separate dates in Manhattan Criminal Court. Bengen was charged with criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor, after getting knocked to the pavement and badly bruised while attempting to get around an SUV stopped […]