WYOMING – State police are interested in talking to anyone who witnessed the chase and capture of Luis Cruz, who alleged he was beaten by several Wilkes-Barre police officers on Stanton Street on Aug. 25.
State police are conducting an independent investigation at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll to determine if Cruz, 23, was indeed physically beaten by officers.
In a news release on Thursday, state police said they would like to hear from anyone, excluding people who have been interviewed, who heard or witnessed the arrest of Cruz.
Cruz claimed he was beaten by at least seven city officers after he ran away from a group of people associated with a man who doesn’t like him. He said he ran home and was allegedly attacked by officers who struck him with their batons and kneed him in the back.
Several officers yelled racial slurs at him, Cruz alleged, beat him at the police department and dropped him off at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
An emergency room physician contacted the District Attorney’s Office with suspicions about Cruz’s injuries. She asked the state police at Wyoming to conduct an independent investigation, and the FBI to determine if Cruz’s civil rights were violated.
City police alleged Cruz matched the description of a man who was yelling that he had a gun and was threatening to kill black people in the area of Dana and Grove streets.
Officer Joseph Sinavage spotted the man, wearing the same type of clothing given by witnesses, on Grove Street and heard him yell, “I’m going to kill him; (expletive) that,” according to arrest records.
Cruz ran away through several yards and refused Sinavage’s commands to stop. Cruz was spotted running onto his front porch, where he struggled with an officer, according to arrest records.
Police said in arrest records that they used pepper spray to try to detain Cruz, who continued to resist arrest. Police said they struck Cruz in the legs four times with a baton.
Cruz was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, and a related charge of criminal mischief for damaging a hot tub during the pursuit. He remains free on $10,000 bail.
State police are especially interested in talking to anyone residing on Stanton, Dana, Grove and Looms streets. Anyone with information is asked to contact the state police at Wyoming at 697-2000.