TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — A Taunton man faced a judge Wednesday after police said he fled a traffic stop and led officers on a high-speed chase that resulted in a crash in the next town over that injured several people.
Alexander Cruz, 24, was arraigned on a long list of charges connected to the police chase that began late Tuesday morning in Easton. He was also arraigned on charges in a separate case stemming from a July incident, where Taunton police allege he punched a chihuahua and threatened to shoot a family member.
Police said Cruz took off after being pulled over for an expired inspection sticker, later telling police he fled because he had warrants out for his arrest.
“He know what he did was stupid, and he’s going to have to pay the price,” said his defense attorney, Daniel Rich.
The chase, which prosecutors say lasted 4.6 miles, ended up on Route 138 in Raynham. Assistant District Attorney Keith Paquette said Cruz was at one point driving 80 miles per hour in the wrong direction. Raynham police utilized spike strips to try and deflate Cruz’s tires.
Paquette said Cruz first crashed into a white tractor-trailer, then rear-ended a gray sedan driven by a 25-year-old woman. Her 3-month-old infant and 4-year-old child were in the car, according to a police report. All three suffered minor injuries.
A woman in Cruz’s car was seriously hurt, according to police, and got out of the car after the crash. She was later flown by medical helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital.
Raynham Police Chief James Donovan also responded to the scene of the crash, according to the report, and was in a minor accident. The report says Donovan “swerved to the right, which caused his cruiser to go off of the roadway, hit the curb and strike a tree.”
Donovan got out of his cruiser and started rendering aid to Catherine Huertas, who had exited the suspect’s car. According to the report, Huertas claimed she had been struck by Donovan’s cruiser. The report, which was written Tuesday night, says “at this time [it] is undetermined if Huertas was struck or not.”
Raynham police did not initially disclose the chief’s involvement in a news release Tuesday.
Reached Wednesday, a spokesperson for Raynham police said Donovan went to the hospital with minor injuries and was released. The spokesperson declined to comment on whether Donovan’s cruiser struck the woman and said to call the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office. She also said Raynham police are declining any interviews at this time.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office, Megan Borges, said police have not yet been able to reach the victim to follow up on her claim. “Based on a preliminary review of the evidence available, it does not appear that Ms. Huertas was struck by the cruiser, but this issue remains under investigation,” Borges said.
It’s unclear whether Huertas is still in the hospital or what her current condition is.
Cruz’s driver’s license was revoked at the time of the incident, police added. He was arraigned Wednesday on the following charges in connection with the police chase and crash:
- Failure to stop for a police officer (two counts)
- Negligent operation of a motor vehicle (two counts)
- Operation of a motor vehicle with a revoked license (two counts)
- Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (four counts)
- Marked lanes violation (two counts)
- Speeding (two counts)
- Red light violation
- Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving property damage (two counts)
- Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving personal injury (four counts)
- Failure to inspect a motor vehicle (two counts)
Cruz was also arraigned on charges of animal cruelty, assault to a family member and assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the July incident in Taunton. A woman identified as Cruz’s mother by his defense attorney had to be restrained and escorted from the courtroom during his arraignment after she became upset and launched herself at members of the press.
The defense attorney, Daniel Rich, said Cruz had fled from police because he had warrants out for his arrest. He said Cruz felt badly about causing injuries to multiple people.
Cruz also had two other warrants out for his arrest in connection with probation violations on previous cases. He’s due back in court Monday afternoon for a dangerousness hearing.