News10NBC Investigates: Defendant in RPD-ATF gun arrest strategy gets released but data shows something is changing

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The News10NBC investigative team is staying on top of this new police strategy to keep people arrested with guns in jail.

The first test of the strategy failed when a federal judge released one of the defendants today.

Federal Judge Mark Pederson said he made his decision “reluctantly.” And while this one defendant got released, the others arrested using the same method are still in jail. Their detention hearings are coming up.

In federal court Friday morning Christian Cruz was released from custody. Judge Pederson told Cruz I will “keep you on a very close leash.”

Cruz is one of at least five men arrested since late July under a new game plan between RPD and ATF.
RPD makes the gun arrest.

ATF runs a background on the gun.

If they find it was made outside New York, it “affects interstate commerce” and makes it a federal case with tougher penalties and tougher bail.

Cruz must stay at home with a GPS ankle bracelet, find a job or go to school and stay out of trouble.

“Those are very strict conditions. He’s not going anywhere,” said Cruz’s lawyer Michael Schiano.

Brean: “The judge did use the word reluctant a couple of times.”

Michael Schiano: “I think any court in the county or the state or especially here in Rochester with the number of guns that are out there has to take into considering the violence that’s been going on in the city.”

The RPD-ATF strategy started in late July.

Let’s compare before and after. From July 1 to 19, Rochester had five murders and 32 shootings. From August 1 to 19, the city had three murders and 15 shootings.

A major reason why Cruz was released is because he has no criminal history.

“It’s a very close call sometimes in these cases but he had no record whatsoever, he’s 24 and the judge did the correct thing here,” Schiano said.

The records show everyone else arrested using this RPD-ATF method has prior felony convictions.