David Cruz, left, of Medford, leaves Suffolk County Court in...

David Cruz, left, of Medford, leaves Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Thursday. Credit: James Carbone

A bar bouncer accused of beating a Centereach man — who later died from his injuries — was charged with first-degree manslaughter in an indictment unsealed Thursday in Riverhead. 

David Cruz, 31, had been charged with felony assault earlier this month, but the charges were upgraded after Jake Scott, 32, died from injuries he suffered in the Aug. 21 alleged beating outside Tailgaters Sports Bar in Holbrook, according to Tania Lopez, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. 

Prosecutors asked Collins on Wednesday to order Cruz held on $1 million cash, $3 million bond or $10 million partially secured bond. Cruz, however, remains free on the supervised release ordered by State Supreme Court Judge John B. Collins last month after the defendant was arraigned on the assault charge. Cruz is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 18. 

Cruz and his attorney, Glenn Obedin of Central Islip, declined to discuss the case after leaving court in Riverhead Thursday. “I’m pleased that the judge followed the law as it stands now and set an appropriate bail,” Obedin said. 

Scott’s family members and supporters, wearing T-shirts with his photo on the front, also declined to comment on the case after the hearing. 

An attorney for Scott’s family, Jon Bell of Syosset, said they are disappointed that Cruz remains free on bail.

“It should be known that Jake was a gentle soul and is sorely missed by his family and friends,” Bell said in a statement. “Nothing will ever bring Jake back.  We will continue to cooperate with the DA's office, and we pray that this violent criminal is brought to justice."

Cruz, of Medford, got into a verbal altercation with Scott early on Aug. 21, Lopez said. The defendant continued to goad Scott after they exited the strip mall bar at abut 2:45 a.m. and attempted to lure him away from the view of the bar's outdoor security camera. When that attempt failed, Cruz allegedly went to his car, removed his hat and something from his pocket, and returned to the front of the bar, Lopez said.

Cruz then dragged a chair to the bar’s outdoor security camera, and covered it with his shirt, officials said.

Scott, who had been sitting on a box outside the bar, attempted to get up as the 6-5, 270-pound Cruz approached and then allegedly punched him, officials said. Scott fell to the ground and Cruz continued to punch him in the head, Suffolk prosecutors said. When Scott lay motionless and unconscious on the ground, Cruz allegedly grabbed Scott's shirt and pulled him up, yelling at Scott to get up, officials said.  When Scott didn’t respond, Cruz allegedly dropped him back to the ground and delivered a final blow to the victim’s head before fleeing the scene, officials said.

A security camera at a nearby business, Lopez said, recorded the events. 

Scott was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma to relieve brain swelling. He suffered a fractured skull and a traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack, Lopez said. 

Cruz surrendered to Suffolk police on Aug. 24. Scott died 11 days after the alleged assault, on Sept. 1, officials said.

"After covering a surveillance camera in a failed attempt to hide his intended crime, the defendant allegedly beat a vulnerable victim so severely that he died,” Tierney said. “This cowardly and despicable act will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and we will seek a measure of justice for the victim’s family and loved ones.”

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