"I'm not willing to risk the safety of the community on the chance that Mr. Cuenas will change," Anhalt said before sentencing him for wounding Officer Kevin Livewell in the leg during an exchange of gunfire.
Cuenas declined to make a statement before sentencing:
"What can I say? I'm going to say nothing," he told the judge.
The July 10, 2010, shootout came after Livewell and Officer Brian Issel began following a white van in the 3000 block of North Water Street in Kensington because it matched the description of a van involved in another shooting earlier that day.
After the van pulled over, Cuenas opened the side door and began firing a rifle, striking Livewell. Issel was able to tackle the driver, Ramon DeJesus, but the passengers, Cuenas and Richard Martinez, fled, dropping an AK-47, an SKS carbine, and a Glock pistol during their escape. Inside the van, police found an arsenal: two Bushmaster AR-15 assault riles, a TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol, a Taurus PT24 pistol, and another Glock.
The judge noted that 52 rounds of "armor-piercing bullets" were found inside the van, and that all the firearms had extended ammunition clips.
DeJesus, 40, and Martinez, 34, pleaded guilty this year in deals with the District Attorney's Office. DeJesus is serving 10 to 25 years in prison; Martinez, 20 to 40 years.
Cuenas, however, went to trial and was convicted this year on two counts of assault on a police officer, attempted murder, conspiracy, and a long list of other offenses.
The assault on an officer charge alone carried a mandatory 20- to 40-year prison sentence.
Defense attorney Norris E. Gelman argued against what amounted to a life term in a nonhomicide. Such a long sentence would deny prison or parole officials the ability to determine whether Cuenas could be rehabilitated, he said.
"People will change, can change, and do change," Gelman said.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo asked for 50 to 100 years.
"Clearly, he showed no hesitation at all to use these weapons and to not just fire them at uniformed police officers but in a residential street in the daytime when a lot of people were out," Zarallo said.
Livewell, 33, an officer since 2001, and Issel, 38, an officer since 2002, were in court but did not make victim-impact statements.
"I am happy with the outcome, well deserved," Issel said afterward.
Livewell declined to comment on the sentence. He said he was out of work three months but has recovered. He said he was still with the force but assigned to the District Attorney's Office.
Issel said he is now a narcotics officer.
Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @joeslobo on Twitter.