The New York County district attorney’s office said a New Jersey man has been arraigned in the violent confrontation last weekend between the driver of a sport utility vehicle and a group of motorcyclists in New York in which a Lawrence man was injured, breaking both his legs.
Christopher Cruz, 28, of Passaic, N.J., was charged with unlawful imprisonment in the second degree and reckless driving, according to the complaint filed against him, which was released by the office of District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney said Cruz was not required to enter a plea, but his lawyer said in court that his client denies the charges.
Cruz allegedly drove a motorcycle that slowed down in front of an SUV, which then came to a stop in the early moments of an incident that quickly spiraled out of control Sunday.
The detective filing the complaint said that a video posted to the Internet showed Cruz pulling in front of a black SUV driving north on the Henry Hudson Parkway and “slowing his motorcycle down while looking behind him in the direction of said vehicle.”
The video also showed Cruz’s motorcycle and the SUV making contact and the SUV stopping with numerous motorcycles around it, blocking its movement, the detective said.
The detective said he showed the video to Cruz, and Cruz “stated in substance” that he was the person on the motorcycle. The detective also noted that the speed limit on the road is 45 miles per hour.
The highway incident sparked a wild confrontation and chase, according to police and footage of the incident, which allegedly ended with the motorcyclists slashing the SUV’s tires, smashing its windows, and attacking the driver.
Bail for Cruz was set at $1,500 cash or $15,000 bond at a hearing Wednesday before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Abraham Clott.
The judge ordered Cruz to surrender his passport and suspended his driver’s license, the district attorney’s office said in an e-mail.
H. Benjamin Perez, Cruz’s attorney, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The district attorney’s office also said that it would not prosecute a second man who was arrested Tuesday, “pending further investigation of the entire incident.”
Karen Friedman Agnifilo, chief of the district attorney’s trial division, said in an e-mailed statement: “We are taking Sunday’s crimes extremely seriously, and will proceed with charges in a manner that enables us to build the strongest cases possible.
“After we investigate the facts and each person’s individual actions, we will know what charges can be supported by the evidence,” the statement read. “There is still a tremendous amount of investigation to be done.”
The Lawrence man, Edwin Mieses Jr., 32, who was one of the group of people riding motorcycles, is recovering in a New York hospital.
He does not face charges. The driver of the Range Rover SUV, which also contained the man’s wife and toddler, has also not been charged.