Officer almost ran over by man saves suspect's life from overdose months later

Posted at 4:55 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 17:38:11-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — A local police officer is being hailed a hero after helping to save a man's life only weeks after they say that same guy tried to run him over along with his partner.

The police officer from Ann Arbor says saving lives is something that always comes first on the job, even when there's a prior history of violence against police.

It was a call to a home on West Stadium officer Thomas Burnette will never forget.

“At first he was just saying he needed a cigarette to calm down,” Burnette said.

Inside the home just before 3 a.m., a bodycam shows 31-year-old Benjamin Laman appearing agitated and as officers tried de-escalating things, he jumps into a vehicle.

“I was concerned enough to get out of the driveway and get into the grass,” Burnette recalled.

Seconds later, the officer said Laman accelerated directly toward him and hopped the curb. Laman narrowly missing officer Burnette and his partner. He then gets out of the car and struggles before being arrested. Police say they also found three knives on the suspect's body.

After the scene last Nov. 14, Laman was charged with multiple felonies and released on a $75,000 bond, with drug use and gun possession prohibited.

Fast forward to two months later, as officer Burnette and others on patrol are called back to the same home to respond to a reported overdose.

“We instantly knew we were going to go with Narcan,” Burnette said.

Using this very tool to save Laman's life, officers helped get him to the hospital where he then recovered.

"Addiction is a disease, but it’s treated differently than any other disease,” said Judge Linda Davis, executive director of Michigan Families Against Narcotics.

Davis says the officer deserves a lot of credit but the court system must also provide adequate help beyond simply a jail cell.

“If their substance abuse disorder goes untreated, they are likely to relapse," Davis said.

Officer Burnette says he hopes mental health assistance is given together with a long-term drug treatment plan.

“What happened two months prior doesn’t have any bearing on how we treat this guy," Burnette said. "We were going to save his life because that’s what we do.”

Benjamin Laman is free on bond now and is due back in court March 22. His defense counsel has also setup treatment for him for substance abuse.