QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) – A man who allegedly bit off an NYPD officer’s fingertip after leading police on a high-speed car chase was arraigned on Wednesday, the Queens district attorney said.
Lenni Rodriguez Cruz, 28, of Brooklyn, was charged with assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful fleeing a police officer, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and more in a 15-count indictment, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Rodriguez Cruz allegedly led police on a car chase in Queens on the evening of Sept. 20, according to authorities. An officer tried to pull him over for allegedly driving a car with a license plate that wasn’t registered to the vehicle.
During the chase, Rodriguez Cruz allegedly drove the wrong way into oncoming traffic, drove through 20 red lights, struck two vehicles and injured a driver, and then slammed into an unmarked police vehicle that was part of a barricade set up to stop him, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Rodriguez Cruz had slurred speech and smelled of alcohol when he was taken into custody, police said. Officers found a plastic cup containing an alcoholic beverage inside his car, according to authorities.
After Rodriguez Cruz was taken to a police precinct, he allegedly struck and spit on a sergeant who was trying to put him in a holding cell, then he allegedly bit off the tip of the officer’s ring finger, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
The sergeant required stitches and surgery that left him without the use of his finger down to his first knuckle, authorities said.
“The defendant is accused of recklessly putting countless lives at grave risk, injuring a motorist and causing a grievous permanent injury to a police officer. The dangerous lawlessness seen here simply will not be tolerated or excused,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.
If convicted, Rodriguez Cruz faces up to 25 years in prison. A judge ordered him to return to court on Nov. 15.
Finn Hoogensen is a digital journalist who has covered local news for more than five years. He has been with PIX11 News since 2022. See more of his work here.