This story was reported by John Asbury, Stefanie Dazio and Ellen Yan. It was written by Dazio and Yan.
Christopher Loeb, whose beating while in police custody brought a police chief down, was arrested again Friday night after hitting a lawn sign and deliberately striking a police vehicle before speeding off, eluding police for more than an hour until a K-9 unit tracked him down off the Long Island Expressway, Suffolk County police said Saturday.
Loeb, 32, was in a 2018 Jeep Cherokee when he crashed into a sign on a Ridge residential lawn on Lakeside Trail just before 8 p.m. Friday, police said. The incident prompted a 911 call, prosecutors said, that started Loeb’s latest run-in with Suffolk police.
Loeb, of Hearthside Drive in Mount Sinai, was ultimately charged with third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree reckless endangerment, unlawfully fleeing a police officer, driving while ability impaired by drugs, and several vehicle and traffic infractions, according to a Suffolk police news release.
His bail was set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond during his arraignment Saturday afternoon before Judge Patricia Grant Flynn at First District Court in Central Islip.
He appeared in the courtroom in a wheelchair, his hands cuffed behind his back, and wearing a hospital gown after being treated at Stony Brook University Hospital for injuries that were not life threatening.
He muttered as prosecutors outlined the charges and said afterward, “All lies.”
Loeb's attorney, Paul Barahal of Smithtown, said in court his client had been "bitten by a police dog and beaten by police" after they tracked him into the woods. A police spokesman declined to comment about the allegations.
Police said that after his arrest, Loeb was “mumbling incoherently” and refused a drug test, according to prosecutors. Court documents state that Loeb told police, “I took heroin,” but he denied it in court.
“He maintains his innocence,” Barahal said outside of court. “He denies everything.”
Shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, two Suffolk officers who responded to the 911 call ordered Loeb to get out of the Jeep, prosecutors said.
Loeb instead shouted expletives at them and when an officer got out of his marked police vehicle, Loeb revved his engine and drove toward him, prosecutors said.
The officer, who serves in the Seventh Precinct, was able to get back into the car before Loeb “intentionally” rammed it with his Jeep and sped away with police in pursuit, authorities said.
As Loeb turned onto Manhasset Trail, a dead-end street a few blocks away, he drove over lawns at 80 mph and struck the officer’s vehicle again, officials said.
Police followed Loeb onto the LIE, where they said he drove recklessly and reached speeds of 115 mph — prompting police to call off the pursuit and tail him from Ridge westbound to Ronkonkoma at a safe distance, officials said. Another officer spotted the vehicle after Loeb got off the highway at Exit 58, Old Nichols Road in Islandia.
There, he parked at the Mobil gas station on the westbound service road, authorities said, but a highway patrol officer spotted the Jeep and a witness reported that the driver had fled on foot just moments before.
A K-9 unit found Loeb in the woods near the gas station at 9:15 p.m., police said.
Loeb was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for his injuries, police said, while the Seventh Precinct officer was treated and released from Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue.
Loeb was arrested Dec. 14, 2012, on charges of stealing a duffel bag containing a gun belt, ammunition, sex toys and pornography from Police Chief James Burke's unmarked police SUV in St. James. Loeb accused Burke of beating him while he was in police custody. In 2015, he sued in federal court, charging the county, Burke and six other officers with violating his civil rights.
The beating allegations sparked a federal probe that led to Burke's indictment and arrest in December 2015. Burke pleaded guilty to violating Loeb's civil rights in February 2016 after admitting to assaulting Loeb and obstruction of justice for orchestrating a departmental cover-up.
The probe led in 2017 to the federal indictment of Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland on charges they were involved in the cover-up. Both Spota and McPartland pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. Spota retired days after he was indicted. Their cases are pending.
Burke was released from a federal prison and transferred to a halfway house in November after serving most of his 46-month prison sentence. He is expected to fully complete his sentence next month but will be on court-supervised status for three years.
In February 2018, Suffolk County agreed to pay Loeb $1.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit he filed after the beating by Burke.
But two months after the settlement, Loeb, homeless at the time, was arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly violating orders of protection issued for his mother and ex-girlfriend, including using another man's cellphone and pretending to be that man. Several of those charges are still pending.
Last November, the NYPD charged him with attempted tampering of physical evidence, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors. The case is still pending in Queens.