CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has found a man going to prison for 18 months for spitting in the faces of Cleveland police officers and paramedics, an incident we recently showed you with exclusive police video.
Matthew Wenzler asked for probation. The officers asked for the maximum sentence. Judge Cassandra Collier Williams gave Wenzler half the max: the 18-month sentence.
The incident happened in January. Police found Wenzler on the sidewalk downtown. They suspected he was drunk or high. As they tried to help him, he started spitting. He continued spitting even after rescue workers covered his head.
Ultimately, he agreed to a plea deal with Cuyahoga County prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
At sentencing, the officers said they have to keep getting tested for disease after what happened.
Officer Tim McKenzie told the judge, "I've never had this much anxiety in my entire life due to this, having to go through all this testing for Hepatitis C, because he was knowingly trying to infect us."
And officer Darian Laska added, "I would like to see him get the max. I don't feel that anything he's done in the past has worked."
Wenzler said he was intoxicated at the time. He told the court, "First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the officers and the EMS workers that I spit on."
In handing out the sentence, the judge said, "The one thing that saves you from me giving you the max is you were badly intoxicated."
Wenzler didn’t just walk out of court back on the streets. But he also caught a break. He could’ve gotten more prison time for getting in trouble in this case while he’d already been given a second chance with a first offender’s program in an earlier drug case. But the judge didn’t tack on more time behind bars.
While the officers in this case wanted a tougher sentence, consider, another man convicted last year for spitting in the face of a Cleveland officer only got three days in jail.