VIDEO: A Rockland driver who was captured by Fort Lee police on the George Washington Bridge after he rammed a patrol car at the toll plaza during a wild chase through several Northeast Bergen towns was ordered released by a judge less than 24 hours later.
Demarest police tried to stop a Toyota Camry driven by 29-year-old Joseph Russo, of Leif Boulevard in Congers, at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Russo kept going, nearly hitting a police officer, as well as a PSE&G employee, authorities said.
Demarest officers pursued the vehicle south on Route 9W before Englewood Cliffs and Palisades Interstate Parkway Police picked up the chase on the northbound PIP.
Russo eventually turned off at Exit 4 and began heading south again on 9W, which turns into Lemoine Avenue, authorities said.
Speeds reached up to 70 miles an hour during the pursuit through Cresskill, Tenafly, Alpine, Englewood and Englewood Cliffs.
Nearly 20 minutes after the chase began, Fort Lee Police Officer Kelsey Ford began pursuing the recklessly-driven Camry south on Lemoine Avenue toward the GWB, Capt. Ricky Mirkovic said.
The sedan nearly hit several pedestrians, so Ford terminated the pursuit, Mirkovic said.
Moments later, Russo deliberately hit a patrol vehicle driven by Fort Lee Police Sgt. George Koutroubinis with the Camry in a bid to escape across the bridge’s upper level, the captain said.
Russo made it through the toll booths, where the Toyota struck two civilian vehicles, Mirkovic said.
Fort Lee police officers ran up to the Camry and grabbed Russo, he said.
A video supplied to Daily Voice (above) shows him being taken into custody.
No injuries were reported to any of the civilians or officers involved, the captain said.
Russo, meanwhile, was charged by Fort Lee and Demarest police with a combined three counts each of aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, as well as assault by auto, eluding, resisting arrest and endangerment by creating a substantial risk of personal injury.
Russo was sent to the Bergen County Jail, where a judge on Saturday ordered him released after a detention hearing, with conditions, under New Jersey's 2017 bail reform law.
The state's Bail Reform & Speedy Trial Act was designed to ensure that poor defendants charged with minor crimes don't stay locked up while large-scale drug dealers pay whatever amount of bail is necessary to free themselves.
Although judges often attach conditions, law enforcement authorities say the reforms have created an unending "catch and release" that allows repeat offenders to continue victimizing the public while police resources that could be used to protect it are tied up.
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