MANHATTAN (PIX11) — An ordinary Tuesday evening along bustling West Houston Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village turned in an instant into a frightening scene.
A cyclist, seen in the top right of surveillance video obtained by PIX11, was mowed down from behind by a suspect in a Mercedes sedan who was trying to get away from police.
“She’s [in] critical condition. I hope she survives,” said store manager Asim Saha.
Saha was one of the many people who heard the impact and ran to the 54-year-old victim.
“We saw him come screaming down the street; two or three cop cars after him. He came down this block, and then he got blocked and got out and started running,” another witness told PIX11 News.
This all started several blocks east on Houston Street, where police say NYPD camera techs witnessed the driver, 30-year-old Efrain Ortiz, and 26-year-old parolee and suspected gang member, Luis Santago handling an illegal gun.
When approached by patrolling officers, the pair hopped into the Mercedes sedan and took off, police said. They lost the cops but then got stuck in traffic on Houston Street.
But when another patrol vehicle spotted the sedan, Santiago — the passenger who police say has been arrested three times while on parole — hopped out and ran.
Officers chased, Tasered, and arrested him on the street.
After Santiago got out of the vehicle, Ortiz fled, struck the cyclist, drove the wrong way up MacDougal Street, and tried to run before he too was arrested, police said.
Asim, the clerk, questioned the NYPD officers who pursued the suspects.
“Think about it that way, so many kids. So many kids are at school on the corner. Even people, they are sitting outside the restaurant,” said Saha.
Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives told PIX11 News: “We’re devastated to learn another New Yorker has been injured due to a police chase, and we hope that the NYPD will take steps to make our streets safer, not more dangerous for pedestrians, bike riders, and fellow drivers.”
NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell also spoke about the incident.
“As a department, this is a balancing act, with pursuits. But in no way are we going to allow illegal firearms on our streets. Because that gun is gonna shoot somebody,” said Chell.
Chell added this was not a high-speed pursuit, and that officers routinely receive extensive pursuit training.
“We never want to see someone get hurt. Trust me, that part of yesterday will be looked at to see how we can do it better, and safer to mitigate for safety to our officers and the community. The question that people should be asking is why was this parolee, with a history of having firearms, a parolee that has been documented on the scene of a murder at another shooting why was he out on parole?” Chell said.