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Legal Ordeal Continues for Driver Assault Victim Ray Bengen

4:25 PM EDT on July 14, 2009


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.

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