An Illinois man who was “foaming at the mouth” yelled “corona” and deliberately coughed in a Chicago cop’s face when the officer responded to a car accident, authorities allege.
Anthony Ponzi, 21, was “highly agitated” when Chicago police responded to the scene of a crash Sunday in the city’s Rogers Park section, according to an arrest report obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
Ponzi then yelled “corona, OK” and coughed directly into an officer’s face as the cop tried to check the Wilmette man for signs of impairment, police said.
The officer “immediately felt particles of saliva/breath” on his face, according to the arrest report.
Ponzi, who appeared in court Monday on charges including aggravated battery to a peace officer, twice deliberately coughed into the cop’s face, Cook County prosecutors said.
The cop attempted to “diminish the effect of the contamination” by tilting his head to one side and stepping backwards, according to a police report.
Ponzi, who was also charged with battery, resisting arrest and DUI, later told staffers at a hospital that he did not have COVID-19, a Chicago police spokesman told the Tribune.
Ponzi’s attorney, meanwhile, told a judge during Monday’s court appearance that the college sophomore is currently receiving treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse.
A judge ordered that Ponzi be released on his own recognizance, citing his lack of a criminal record and the possibility that he may have been inebriated during the alleged assault.
“I am concerned with the battery of a police officer … particularly spitting, especially in these times,” Judge Charles Beach said at a bond hearing using video conferencing software, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
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