Man Sentenced to Prison for Punching Natrona County Jail Deputy
A man who was incarcerated at the Natrona County Detention Center when he punched a deputy earlier this year was sentenced to a term of imprisonment Tuesday morning.
District Judge Thomas Sullins sentenced Dante Jamal Johnson, who was 27 years old at the time of the incident, to a term of 18 to 42 months in prison, with roughly five months' credit for time already served.
Johnson previously pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of interference with a peace officer. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss another charge of aggravated assault and battery of a corrections officer. The interference charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, the assault occurred in the jail's G-pod shortly after 5 p.m. on May 15. As Johnson approached the food service carts during dinner, he punched a deputy in the left ear and attempted to strike the deputy a second time.
The deputy drew his taser and commanded Johnson to get down on the floor. Johnson complied and was taken into custody.
As Johnson was being escorted out of the pod, he turned and spit on another deputy. Johnson reportedly said something to the effect of, "don't kick me b----."
When interviewed about the incident, Johnson told an investigator that he punched the deputy because "the temperature of his dinner time iced tea was always to[o] warm." Johnson had reached out, felt the temperature of his iced tea, and became angry. He then punched the deputy.
Johnson told the investigator that detention deputies had previously ignored multiple requests for cooler iced tea.
When asked why he had spit on the second deputy, Johnson replied, "She was standing there, and she is worthless."
During Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorney Michael Schafer told the court that Johnson had been deemed a threat to the community by the state probation and parole office. Johnson's prior crimes, Schafer said, include battery, assault, unlawful contact and interference.
Public defender Kurt Infanger asked for a sentence of probation, telling Sullins that Johnson's legal problems all stem from his mental illness. Of the Wyoming State Penitentiary, Infanger said, "I do not think it's the proper environment for someone with mental health issues."
While Sullins remarked that there were "perhaps some mitigating circumstances" regarding Johnson's mental health, he did not find Johnson to be a suitable candidate for probation.
Johnson declined to make a statement before being sentenced.