No charges in death of man struck & killed by a tractor trailer during police encounter

A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Kevin Cruz, 25, of Black River, N.Y., who was struck by a tractor trailer and killed during an encounter with the Montville Police Department on I-80 on Aug. 22, 2019.

The fatal police encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to 16 to 23 New Jersey residents who had been called to serve on the grand jury.

The investigation included interviews of witnesses; review of footage from mobile video recorders in police vehicles; and autopsy results from the medical examiner.

After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on Monday, Aug. 2, and voted “no bill,” meaning a majority of grand jurors found the actions of the officers who encountered Cruz were not the cause of his death and no charges should be filed against them.

According to the investigation, an officer of the Montville Police Department stopped the car driven by Cruz around 2:20 a.m. on Aug. 22, 2019, on the westbound side of I-80.

During the stop, the officer, Lt. Christopher Keezer, asked Cruz to exit his vehicle.

Keezer was assisted by two officers who arrived on the scene separately: Officers Samuel Greendyk and Daniel Casillo. There was a female passenger in the car, whose name was not released.

During the interaction with the officers, Cruz ran into the roadway and was struck by a tractor trailer. The driver of the tractor trailer immediately stopped the truck.

Cruz was pronounced dead at the scene.

This investigation was conducted pursuant to a law enacted in January 2019, which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.

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