A man pleaded not guilty Friday to numerous charges in connection with a high-speed police chase that spanned three cities and ended with a crash in Cranston.
Jashua Mercado, 18, of Pawtucket, was arraigned in Kent County District Court. He was charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle, felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, reckless driving, three counts of hit-and-run, operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license and resisting arrest.
A judge ordered Mercado held on $75,000 bail with surety.
Pawtucket police said they had planned to charge Mercado with felony assault after he was arraigned on the Cranston charges.
The chase started Thursday afternoon after Pawtucket police responded to a call about a hit-and-run accident on East Avenue and saw Mercado driving a stolen car.
Pawtucket police officer Mark Ramos attempted to stop the stolen car when Mercado allegedly pulled onto the sidewalk and drove straight at the officer. Ramos jumped out of the way and fired shots at the car, but Mercado fled onto Route 95 south.
Mercado sped through Providence and damaged multiple cars on Park Avenue in Cranston. Cranston police later cornered Mercado on Arcadia Avenue and placed him into custody after resisting arrest.
"Cranston units spotted the vehicle. The vehicle did not stop for the officers. The vehicle continued to drive recklessly through the city, struck three vehicles, one of which was a school bus which did have children on it. The suspect then drove at one of the police cruisers forcing it off the road," the prosecutor said.
Park Avenue residents who witnessed the chase couldn't believe what they saw.
"It was a lot of traffic and the guy, he didn't even stop. It was crazy," said Naiem Sayegh of Cranston.
Neither Mercado nor his family would stop for reporters outside of court Friday.