A New York officer was brutally mauled in an attack last week and is now fighting for his life in the hospital.
And on Tuesday, the courtroom was packed with officers showing their support as the suspect was formally charged in the assault.
Keith Williams, 28, now faces charges of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated assault of a police officer after the horrific attack that almost took the life of Officer Dennison Wright.
He entered a plea of not guilty.
According to the police report, Williams allegedly punched Wright in the face, then used an 8-inch blade to repeatedly slash and stab the officer “multiple times upon his face, left eye and lower body, causing serious physical injuries which were deemed to be life threatening.”
He made his first court appearance on Tuesday, where he was met by a display of roughly 200 police officers in the crowd.
An estimated 200 people, Most of them law enforcement at Keith Williams court appearance today. No bail no release for the man charged with attempted aggravated murder of a police officer. pic.twitter.com/fYugOasteO
— Jillian Parker (@TVJillianParker) October 8, 2019
Reports said that it if wasn’t for the immediate help of a good Samaritan… Officer Wright might not have made it.
Last Friday, Lydell Weatherspoon was visiting friends just a couple houses away where Officer Wright was attacked when responding to a call. He didn’t hesitate to respond when he heard the officer screaming for help.
“When I got a little closer to the house I could hear someone inside yelling for help,” said Lydell Weatherspoon.
Chief La’Ron Singletary said Officer Denny Wright had responded to a call on Peck Street at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. The call came in for a reported domestic incident, and Officer Wright responded alone.
Tons of police on N Goodman pic.twitter.com/2Ewbx05Sof
— Tina MacIntyre-Yee (@tyee23) October 4, 2019
When he went into the home, he found Williams hiding under a bed. Family members and the officer tried to talk him out from hiding. The man then tried to run out of the home.
When Wright tried to stop him, police say the suspect punched him and then began stabbing him.
Police say that Officer Wright pulled out his gun and fired once. He missed the suspect, who then continued to stab him.
“Once I got in the officer said ‘help,’” said Weatherspoon. “I immediately took a step toward the officer and the guy on the ground. He had him pinned down and I called out. Listen. Stop moving. Not to the officer but the guy calming him down. He tried to struggle a little bit. Once he heard my voice he stopped and just laid there.”
According to Weatherspoon, there was blood everywhere… but he knew he had to keep calm if he was going to be able to help.
“That’s when I could see the officer in real distress, ” said Weatherspoon. “I was on the phone with dispatch and I immediately told them officer down. Officer needs assistance. He needs help real bad.”
Although Wright was badly injured, he knew he had to keep the suspect pinned down so he didn’t hurt anyone else.
“He had one knee in him and his two hands holding him down pinned against the sofa,” said Weatherspoon. “The guy couldn’t get up and do anything. He couldn’t even move. Again that showed remarkable strength from the officer to be able to do that in that moment of his trauma situation. It surprised me.”
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Dooley on Keith Williams’ arraignment #roc @DandC pic.twitter.com/lwkcLrmzEL
— Victoria Freile (@vfreile) October 8, 2019
Weatherspoon said it was because of Wright’s willingness to protect others even while he was injured that he was honored to help the officer.
“That officer showed me a lot of courage,” said Weatherspoon. “I thank God everyday that I did what I did because it’s individuals like him that create individuals like me. Because if he is willing to put his life on the line to serve and protect why can’t we all do it for each other.”
Shortly after, other responding officers arrived and tased the suspect before taking him into custody. The suspect wasn’t hurt. He was, however, kept in the hospital under evaluation.
“I watched the body camera video and what I witnessed was a vicious and brutal attack on Officer Wright,” Singletary added. “We could easily be standing here talking about another set of circumstances had it not been for the resiliency of Officer Wright, the good Samaritans that intervened and the quick actions of the responding officers.”
According to Singletary, Officer Wright is a 23-year veteran of the force. He’s worked in the Clinton section his entire career. He has also trained many of the department’s officers.
“The outpouring of support is a true testament of Denny’s character—a loving and caring officer who did and will always put the safety of others before his own,” family members said in a statement.
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Rochester Police Deputy Chief Mark Mura said the officer underwent surgery and is in serious but stable condition.
“Thankfully, it looks like the officer’s going to be good,” Mura said in a media briefing at the scene.
Mura thanked the stranger for intervening.
“Sometimes we need help just like the community needs help,” Mura said.
It’s a reminder of the daily threat, he said.
“These are the different things our officers face every single day,” Mura said. “You can show up on a scene and everything’s fine, and you go home, everything’s great for five years in a row and then you show up on a scene and somebody attacks you with a knife.”
Friday afternoon, Mayor Lovely Warren put out a statement:
“Today’s news reminds us of the bravery and dedication of the men and women of our Rochester Police Department. I ask all those of faith to pray for the Officer’s recovery and well-being. The residents who intervened deserve our gratitude and their actions speak to the true spirit of our city.”
Warren paid a visit at the hospital to the officer, along with Chief Singletary, Deputy Mayor James Smith and Council President Loretta Scott.
While he wasn’t conscious at the time of the visit, Scott said she said a few words to him. She also talked to his wife and son, telling them community was with them and they are in everyone’s prayers.
“It was very difficult to see someone who, just by the fact of doing their job was in that position,” Scott said. “I don’t take what they do for granted.”
As a result of the incident, Chief La’Ron Singletary said there will be two officers assigned to each patrol car.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said she plans to present the case to a grand jury later this week.