Rochester, NY – A man whose brutal knife attack on a Rochester police officer Friday was stopped by good Samaritans appeared Tuesday for his arraignment in a courtroom lined with more than 200 law enforcement officers.
The incident occurred at about 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 when Rochester Police Officer Dennison "Denny" Wright was responding to a domestic disturbance call at 37 Peck Street, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
When Officer Wright arrived at the home, 28-year-old Keith Williams was hiding under a bed.
But then Williams tried to make a run for it and Officer Wright stopped him, according to the Democrat & Chronicle
That’s when Williams pulled out a knife with an eight-inch blade and attacked the police officer.
Court records showed that Williams first punched Officer Wright in the face, and then he used the knife to stab the police officer "multiple times upon his face, left eye and lower body, causing serious physical injuries which were deemed to be life threatening."
Lydell Weatherspoon lives nearby and heard a gunshot and cries for help coming from the home on Peck Street, WHAM reported.
Police said Officer Wright had fired his weapon as he was trying to fight off his knife-wielding attacker.
Weatherspoon ran into the home and tried to intervene.
“It wasn't pretty in there, especially for that officer,” he told WHAM. “Once I entered, the only thing I saw was an injured officer, and I needed to assist him and help him and the suspect as well, because I didn't know who was injured to be honest. All you saw was a sea of red in there.”
Weatherspoon said he propped open the door to let in some light and called 911.
Rochester police said that Officer Wright was calling for backup at the same time, according to WHAM.
Weatherspoon said two more good Samaritans ran into the house and helped him and Officer Wright subdue the suspect until the officer’s backup arrived.
“The first thing I did was get on the phone with dispatch and let them know we have an officer down, we need help over here immediately. The next thing you know, an army was over here,” he explained to WHAM. “When the first officer came to the door, his weapon was drawn. The first thing I needed him to understand was I'm here to help, so the first thing I said to him was don’t shoot, don’t shoot. We need help inside.”
Officer Wright suffered cuts to his face and head and was transported to Rochester General Hospital for treatment, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
The 23-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department remained in the hospital when his attacker appeared before a judge for his arraignment on Tuesday, but more than 200 Rochester police officers lined the courtroom to represent the wounded officer.
Williams was also transported to the hospital although his injuries were not as significant.
The suspect was charged with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated assault of a police officer, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday. The judge ordered Williams held without bail.
Williams was already a suspect in a shooting earlier in October, and he was arrested after an armed standoff with police in June, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
The district attorney said that assault and weapons charges were still pending in the June case.
On Monday night, the Greater Rochester International Airport’s canopy was lit up with blue to honor Officer Wright.
The same day, Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary announced that all police units would carry two officers until further notice, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Officer Wright was alone when he responded to the domestic disturbance call that involved Williams.
"Every single one of those members of law enforcement, they go out every day and they work diligently to make sure that our citizens are protected," Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said after the arraignment. "Officer Wright was just doing his job. He was responding to a domestic call. … He's lucky he's alive."
Doorley said she planned to take the case before a grand jury later in the week, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
Chief Singletary credited the Weatherspoon and the two other good Samaritans for saving Officer Wright’s life, WHAM reported.
“Too often we talk about how officers run toward danger,” the chief said. “I can't reiterate it enough, there are good people in these neighborhoods. This is why we do what we do, because we know there are people in the neighborhoods who support the Rochester Police Department.”