An Albany man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for a February attack on a Baton Rouge police officer who credited a good Samaritan with saving the officer's life.
Thomas M. Bennett, 29, pleaded guilty in August to disarming a police officer, aggravated battery and cocaine possession, as well as an unrelated burglary charge.
Cpl. Billy Aime was conducting a stop Feb. 19 after he observed drug paraphernalia in a parked vehicle where Bennett was sleeping. Bennett became aggressive with Aime after getting out of his car, grabbing the officer's baton and hitting him repeatedly on the head, a police report states. Bennett also bit one of the officer's fingers.
Bennett was reaching for Aime's holstered gun when 56-year-old Vickie Williams-Tillman drove by and noticed the officer struggling with the man on Harry Drive. She sprang into action, taking Bennett's hand off the weapon and jumping on his back, police have said.
Before intervening, Williams-Tillman rolled down her window to ask Aime if he needed help but she could not hear him respond. But she did make eye contact with him,
"I could see in his eyes he needed help," Williams-Tillman said after the incident. "You don't have time to think about it. I did what God needed me to do."
Bennett was finally detained after he was hit by a stun gun fired by another officer.
Then-Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie and East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome praised Williams-Tillman's actions after the incident.
The Union of Baton Rouge Police also gave special recognition and thanks to Williams-Tillman in March, presenting her with a limited edition police union watch and a commemorative coin.
The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a resolution noting her "tremendous personal sacrifice to come to the physical aid of one's fellow man."
State District Judge Richard Anderson on Wednesday sentenced Bennett to concurrent prison terms of eight years on the aggravated battery count, five years each on the disarming an officer and drug charges, and four years on the burglary count.
Prosecutor Steve Danielson said it was noted in court that Bennett, who did not have a significant criminal history prior to the incident involving Aime, was under the influence of drugs at the time.
Baton Rouge Police Cpl. Billy Aime believes his Good Samaritan and new friend, 56-year-old Vickie Williams-Tillman, saved his life Sunday morning.