ELKTON — A man who assaulted two Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputies and tried to disarm one of them during a scuffle at his Elkton-area residence on Halloween night received probation before judgment Wednesday, after accepting a plea deal.
The defendant, Angel Louis Rodriguez, 36, now of Wilmington, Del., pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault — one relating to Cpl. Jonathan Pristash, the other to Cpl. Mark Messner. Rodriguez also pleaded guilty to disarming a law enforcement officer. During the incident, Rodriguez tried to take Pristash’s holstered, agency-issued handgun.
Assistant State’s Attorney Yves Archey recommended a sentence within state sentencing guidelines, which set a penalty range of three months to four years of active incarceration for Rodriguez. State sentencing guidelines are based on a defendant’s criminal record and other factors.
Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis Jr. accepted Rodriguez’ guilty pleas and then set the convictions aside, opting to grant him probation before judgment
In making his decision to grant probation before judgment, the judge considered Rodriguez’ otherwise clean criminal record and his undergoing alcohol and mental health treatment — on his own volition — after the incident.
Davis sentenced Rodriguez to the time he already had served in jail — 90 days — after his arrest and ordered him to serve two years of probation. The judge also ordered Rodriguez to successfully complete his current treatment program.
Court records indicate that Baltimore-based lawyers Matthew B. Rogers and Lawrence Greenberg represented Rodriguez.
The incident started at about 5:45 p.m. Oct. 31, when CCSO Dfc. Michael O’Donnell, along with Pristash and Messner, responded to Rodriguez’ then-residence in the 100 block of Avalon Avenue in the Manchester Park community, north of Elkton, for a reported domestic assault, police reported.
Rodriguez’s wife told investigators that her husband had been drinking alcohol all day and that he started choking her and then threw several punches, which she blocked with her arms, police said. Investigators noticed bruising on the wife’s neck and arms that were consistent with her account, police added.
Rodriguez had sped away in a black Volkswagen Jetta before deputies arrived, but he returned while O’Donnell, Pristash and Messner still were on the scene and he stopped in front of the house, according to police.
By that time, trick-or-treating had started in the neighborhood, police noted.
In addition to the assault call, the CCSO had received complaints from nearby residents that Rodriguez had sped through that neighborhood in that Volkswagen Jetta while trick-or-treaters were walking in the streets and on the sidewalks, police reported.
After returning, Rodriguez locked the car door and placed the Jetta into gear as Pristash approached the vehicle while repeatedly ordering him to exit it, police said. The driver’s side window, however, was open, police added.
“Cpl. Pristash reached inside the vehicle (attempting) to prevent the vehicle from being placed in motion. Mr. Rodriguez was able to place the vehicle in gear, dragging Cpl. Pristash as he was partly in the vehicle. Mr. Rodriguez was holding onto Cpl. Pristash’s equipment as the vehicle was in motion,” Lt. Michael Holmes, a CCSO spokesman, outlined shortly after the incident.
Observing the struggle, Messner approached the vehicle from the passenger’s side and attempted to help Pristash, police reported.
“Messner was struck by an open door from the vehicle, as it remained in motion,” Holmes said.
During the struggle, Pristash was able to remove himself and Rodriguez from the vehicle, according to Holmes. Pristash also was struck by the vehicle during that struggle, Holmes reported.
At that point, Messner noticed the unoccupied car traveling toward the road, according to police.
“Fearing for the safety of pedestrians (trick-or-treaters), Cpl. Messner ran after the vehicle and was able to turn the steering wheel, redirecting the vehicle away from the pedestrians. Cpl Messner was struck by the vehicle during these events,” Holmes said.
The car continued through a nearby yard, striking a Delmarva Power utility box and then a parked, unoccupied GMC Yukon, he added.
Rodriguez continued to struggle as Pristash attempted to arrest him, police reported.
“Mr. Rodriguez grabbed and attempted to remove Cpl. Pristash’s firearm from his holster,” Holmes said, noting that that particular struggle lasted for a moment.
The deputies arrested Rodriguez, who, having suffered “non-life-threatening” injuries during the incident, was transported to Union Hospital in Elkton and then transferred to University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore, police said.
A deputy in a CCSO patrol vehicle drove Pristash and Messner to Union Hospital, where they were treated for their scuffle-related injuries and then released, police added.
In addition to the three offenses to which Rodriguez had pleaded guilty, he had faced 16 other criminal and traffic charges, including first-degree assault, obstructing and hindering, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and speeding, court records show.