Jackson man pleads guilty to evading and assaulting in clashes with Lakewood police

TOMS RIVER — A 21-year-old Jackson man charged with a series of clashes with Lakewood police in October that led to a detective opening fire on the SUV he was driving, admitted to the crimes.

Kevin Valverde-Cruz pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and evading law enforcement Wednesday before Ocean County Superior Court Judge Linda G. Baxter.

Prosecutors will seek a five-year state prison sentence for each charge at sentencing, Ocean County District Attorney Bradley D. Billhimer said in a statement. The penalties must run concurrently.

On October 18, Lakewood Police detectives spotted a white Jeep Grand Cherokee speeding through town. Detectives attempted to stop a motor vehicle, but the driver did not stop, the prosecutor’s office said. The pursuit was halted on the Garden State Parkway for public safety reasons.

Later that evening, the Jeep was on the shoulder of the westbound lane of Central Avenue in Lakewood. Detectives approached the SUV and made contact with the driver, but he reversed the vehicle and hit their police vehicle, the prosecutor’s office said.

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The driver nearly ran over detectives as he drove away, and one of the detectives fired a single bullet into the side of the vehicle, according to the prosecutor’s office.

On October 22, a Lakewood police officer saw the same Jeep on Third Street and Clifton Avenue in the township and attempted another stop. The driver did not stop and accelerated toward Madison Avenue. The officer did not pursue the vehicle, the prosecutor’s office said.

An investigation by the DA’s Major Crimes Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Lakewood Detectives found Valverde-Cruz was driving the Jeep in all encounters with police, the prosecutor’s office said.

The Jeep was found at Valverde-Cruz’s home in Jackson when he was arrested. The DA’s Narcotics Strike Force, along with the Jackson and Howell Police Departments, assisted in the investigation.

Ken Serrano covers crime, breaking news and investigations. Contact him at 732-643-4029 or kserrano@gannettnj.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Jackson NJ man admits to clashes with Lakewood police

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