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What you need to know for 02/20/2017

Truck driver accused of killing bicyclist facing new charges

Truck driver accused of killing bicyclist facing new charges

Charges have now been filed in connection with the Schenectady portion of the November police chase

Charges have now been filed in connection with the Schenectady portion of the November police chase involving a man who allegedly hit a bicyclist in Albany then fled with the man’s body lodged on his truck.

The charges were filed against Pablo Cruz last week in Schenectady City Court and include felony reckless endangerment counts because he allegedly drove his truck at a police car with two officers inside, forcing them to take evasive action.

The court filings give an indication of how the chase wound through city streets early that morning, before finally ending in Rotterdam when the engine in Cruz’s truck blew.

But the new charges filed in Schenectady seem unlikely to go to trial.

Deanndra Macomber, a prosecutor in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, said the top counts were already included in the Albany County indictment and her office will defer prosecution to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

Crimes are normally charged in the county where they are alleged to have occurred. However, Albany County can prosecute the Schenectady County end of the chase as a continuation of the Albany County crimes, officials said.

Cruz, 39, of 1060 Helderberg Ave., was indicted in April on charges that included second-degree murder. He is accused in Albany County of striking and killing 45-year-old Paul J. Merges Jr., as he rode his bike near Manning Boulevard.

Cruz was allegedly drunk and fleeing from an Albany County sheriff’s deputy at the time. After the impact, Merges’ body got lodged on Cruz’ truck, and remained there as Cruz raced into Schenectady County.

The Albany County indictment includes a count of first-degree reckless endangerment, which includes general accusations that Cruz almost struck marked police cars in both Albany and Schenectady counties.

In Schenectady, Cruz is accused of driving his pickup truck at a city police car occupied by city police officers Eric Owens and Adam Willetts in the area of Duane Avenue as their car had its lights flashing and siren wailing. Multiple traffic infractions were also issued related to reckless driving, speeding and running through stop signs and traffic lights.

Police say Cruz crossed Interstate 890 at Michigan Avenue; headed into Mont Pleasant on Norwood Avenue; turned on Crane Street, then Sixth Avenue; hit Congress Street and turned onto Broadway; and turned onto Guilderland Avenue and went onto Curry Road in Rotterdam. There, his truck finally gave out and he was captured.

Cruz remains in custody at the Albany County Jail, held without bail as the Albany County case awaits court action.

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