Ann Arbor, MI – A meth-fueled suspect who tried to run over multiple Ann Arbor police officers with his vehicle in 2020 was sentenced to probation on Monday.
Benjamin Kirk Laman, 32, avoided a prison sentence after pleading no contest to two counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of misdemeanor driving under the influence, despite having nearly killed the two Ann Arbor police officers who came to his home for a welfare check on Nov. 14, 2020, MLive reported.
While out on bond after the attack, the suspect overdosed on drugs and was revived by one of the officers he previously tried to mow down with his car.
Laman’s attorney, Joe Simon, said Laman was in the midst of a mental health crisis and that he never truly intended to kill any of the officers.
“He was in psychosis. What he ingested put him there, but he had no idea what he was doing,” Simon told Washtenaw County Trial Judge Patrick Conlin during the sentencing hearing on Monday.
The near-deadly incident occurred at approximately 3 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2020, after Ann Arbor police received a report that Laman was experiencing a “psychotic episode,” MLive reported.
Officers responded to Laman’s residence on West Stadium Boulevard and tried to speak with him, but he blew them off and headed out the back door, bodycam footage showed.
One of the officers followed the suspect outside and tried to get him to talk to him, at which point Laman got into a car and started the engine, ignoring the officer’s requests to stop.
Police were waiting for mental health crisis team personnel to respond to the scene when the suspect suddenly came barreling across the lawn with his vehicle, headed directly towards one of the officers, bodycam footage showed.
The officer immediately took off running for his life.
“He tried to run me over!” he radioed a moment later.
The officer ran into a home as Laman crashed through a gate behind him, bodycam footage showed.
“We need more units over here,” he radioed. “He’s trying to run everyone over.”
The officer said he would need to use his patrol unit to “ram” the suspect’s vehicle in order to stop him.
But before that could happen, the officer bailed out of his patrol car and took off running towards Laman, who was running up a driveway on foot, the video showed.
The suspect appeared to trip and fell onto the ground, at which point the officer caught up to him and placed him in handcuffs.
Two officers suffered minor injuries during the incident, MLive reported.
Police also located three knives on the suspect when he was arrested, according to WXYZ.
Despite being charged with multiple felonies, Laman was released on $75,000 bond.
Just two months later, the Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) received a report of an overdose at the same residence on West Stadium Boulevard.
AAPD Officer Thomas Burnette, who was one of the officers Laman tried to mow down during the encounter in November, responded to the suspected overdose call, WXYZ reported.
“We instantly knew we were going to go with Narcan,” Officer Burnette told the news outlet.
The officer administered the drug, saving Laman’s life, WXYZ reported.
“What happened two months prior doesn’t have any bearing on how we treat this guy,” Officer Burnette said. “We were going to save his life because that’s what we do.”
Simon told the court his client has been participating in mental health and chemical dependency treatment, and claimed he has been sober for one year, MLive reported.
Laman told the judge he knows he “wouldn’t be here” if Officer Burnette hadn’t saved him the day he overdosed.
He said that at the time of the attack on the officers, he had been using methamphetamine for several days straight and that he thought people were in his walls, MLive reported.
“I offer my deepest apologies to the officers. I can’t imagine what I put them through,” the suspect said during his sentencing hearing. “I hope the officers can find It in their hearts to forgive me.”
Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Jessica Blanch said Simon’s recommended sentence of credit for 35 days served in jail and two years of probation was “super lenient, given what happened,” MLive reported.
“In this case he tried to kill two officers and put their lives in great danger,” Blanch said. “(Police) put their lives on the line and we need to back them. To set an example to tell people you can’t do this and can’t go after officers numerous times with a car and try to run them over.”
Simon said Laman wasn’t trying to kill the officers and blamed the methamphetamine for his client’s actions.
Conlin ultimately sentenced Laman to two years of probation, 50 hours of community service, and a one-year suspended jail sentence, MLive reported.
The suspect was also court-ordered to continue treatment and to pay over $4,300 in restitution to the AAPD.