Police: Man who stole Schenectady police SUV reached speeds of 120 mph in Monday 70-mile chase


SCHENECTADY – The man accused of taking a Schenectady police SUV on a 70-mile helicopter-aided chase out of Schenectady down the Thruway Monday reached speeds if 120 mph, according to police allegations filed in court.

Ricky Irizarry, 43, of Schenectady, was finally arrested in Ulster County after the Monday evening incident, stopped by tire deflation devices deployed by sheriff’s deputies there. No injuries were reported.

Irizarry faces three separate felonies in connection with the incident – first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal mischief.

He remained at the Schenectady County Jail Tuesday without bail.

The reckless endangerment charge accuses Irizarry of endangering the public by reaching the speeds of 120 mph in the stolen patrol vehicle on the Thruway and then forcing law enforcement to deploy the spike strips to slow and stop the vehicle, according to the allegations filed.

The incident began at about 6:16 p.m. Monday on the Rosa Road side of Ellis Hospital in the emergency vehicle area, according to the allegations filed.

Irizarry is accused of getting into the driver’s seat of the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor and he “disregarded commands to exit the vehicle and sped off towards Rosa Rd.,” the police allegations read.

The allegations did not indicate whether police had interaction with Irizarry immediately prior to the incident. State police said Monday night he had been taken to the hospital for an evaluation.

Schenectady police spokesman Sgt. Matthew Dearing, however, said Tuesday the individual who took the police vehicle was not transported there by officers and was not in custody prior to the theft.

A state police spokesman later indicated he was told the original information about the suspect came from a Schenectady lieutenant on the scene, but the spokesman also said if it was incorrect, they would defer to Schenectady police for the correct information.

The investigation into the incident remained ongoing, Dearing said.

Irizarry led police on a chase through Schenectady and onto the thruway at Exit 25. At least one city officer caught up with Irizarry in the area of McClellan Street and Rugby Road and attempted to stop Irizarry there, but Irizarry refused to stop and led the pursuit “through the City of Schenectady,” according to the allegations.

“The defendant disregarded multiple traffic control devices, passed multiple motorists, and reached speeds of more than 100 (mph),” the allegations read.

 A state police helicopter joined the pursuit, monitoring it from the air, state police said.

The allegations valued the patrol vehicle at $15,000 and damage to the tires due to the spike strips at about $350. Three out of the vehicle’s four tires were damaged.

The allegations placed the end of the chase at mile marker 91.2, just south of Kingston’s Exit 19 and about 68 miles from Schenectady’s Ellis Hospital.

The incident is not the first time a Schenectady Police Department patrol vehicle has been stolen. It’s happened at least once before, in February 2007.

In that case, officers pursuing a drug suspect left their cruiser unlocked and running. A man then jumped in, drove it four blocks and then abandoned it undamaged. The man in that case was later sentenced to three years in state prison, newspaper records show.

In response to that incident, police said the department’s policy was that cruisers should be turned off and locked when left, except in an emergency. Further information on the department’s current policy was not available Tuesday.

Gazette reporter Chad Arnold contributed to this article

Categories: News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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