Attack on police lands man in state prison
WEST CHESTER >> When confronted with a person raging out of control and making threats, a normal citizen can turn their heads and walk away. Not so police officers, a Chester County prosecutor told a Common Pleas judge during a recent sentencing hearing.
Rather, they must confront the situation even if it puts them in danger, said Assistant District Attorney Bail Joy in asking Judge Phyllis Streitel to sentence defendant William Mathues to state prison for his attack on three West Chester police officers who had responded to a distress call from Mathues’s former girlfriend. One of the officers was kicked in the groin during the confrontation.
“To assault police officers who protect our communities is a
grave crime,” said Joy in a sentencing memorandum for Streitel. “It is one that, if left unchecked, would threaten the fabric and safety as a whole.”
The three officers involved — Sgt. Jeffrey Ditz, Cpl. James Gorman, and Officer David Frantz — “did not have the luxury that other citizens do, to walk away from the problem,” Joy wrote. “Instead they did their job as police officers and dealt with it.”
Streitel ultimately sentenced Mathues, a homeless man with a long string of criminal behavior who had been convicted previously for assaulting the woman who called police to her borough home last August, to three to seven years in state prison for the assaults on the officers, as well as other charges.
The judge also added another 1 1/2 years behind bars onto Mathues’ sentence for violating his probation of his previous conviction for simple assault. Overall, he will serve at least 4 1/2 years in state prison for the attack.
Joy had asked for a minimum term of three years.
Mathues, 55, who has lived in the West Chester area for several years but had no permanent address at the time of his arrest, was found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault, one count of manufacturing a controlled substance, and resisting arrest after a jury trial in May in Streitel’s courtroom.
In his testimony at trial, Mathues claimed that he had not attacked the officers, and had merely called them names before they attacked him. In a pre-sentencing report, Mathues told an investigator that the officers had lied in their testimony and that the jury had been unfair in convicting him.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Ditz, the officers responded to a distress call from an alarm service at the apartment of Kathleen Kozlowsky on East Evans Street in the borough about 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2015. There, they found Kozlowsky essentially unharmed but fearful of Mathues, with whom she had been arguing and who had assaulted her in the past.
She said Mathues had pushed her and threatened to kill her, saying, “I will kill any man I find you with,” according to the complaint.
Kozlowsky told the officers there was an active protection order in effect against Mathues that prohibited him from contacting her, but that she had agreed to allow him back into her apartment because she felt sorry for him. She also said that Mathues was using her apartment to grow marijuana.
When Ditz approached Mathues on a rear deck of the apartment, he could, in fact, see a large marijuana plant on the deck. Mathues told Ditz he was permitted to stay in the apartment and that it had become his own residence because of the time he had lived there. When Ditz tried to take him into custody, he raised his leg and kicked Ditz in the groin.
Even though he was in considerable pain, Ditz grappled with Mathues while Gorman and Franz attempted to restrain him. Mathues kicked at all three, according to their testimony, and ultimately had to be subdued by Gorman using a Taser. He had to be carried from the apartment after being handcuffed because he refused to stand.
The officers “put themselves in harm’s way to make sure (Kozlowsky) was safe,” Joy said in his memo. “Their selflessness stood in sharp contrast to (Mathues’) selfishness.”
Mathues was represented by Assistant Public Defender Kelly Ann Jurs.