A Chicago man who led police on a 2011 chase in northern Kane County that ended in a crash in to a police car was sentenced to 12 years in prison Monday on charges of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and aggravated driving while his license was revoked.
Henry Benjamin III, 39, of the 100 block of North Mozart Street in Chicago, pleaded guilty to the felony charges in January.
Assistant State's Attorney Greg Sams had asked Kane County Associate Judge Marmarie J. Kostelny for a 17-year sentence, "to protect society from him"; Benjamin's attorney, Liz Lovig, requested the minimum, six years. Benjamin has been held in the Kane County jail since the March 12, 2011, event. He will receive credit for time served, and is eligible for day-for-day good time sentence reduction.
Sams argued that Benjamin's criminal record, dating back to a theft conviction as a juvenile in 1990, four DUI convictions, two convictions for resisting a peace officer and 25 convictions for driving with a suspended or revoked license, showed he was likely to reoffend and that he was a danger to the public. "He has conduct that just continually repeats itself," Sams said.
"I now know that I have a problem. I know what I did was wrong," Benjamin told Kostelny.
Kostelny said a videotape of the events was alarming to view, and that she was amazed no one was more seriously injured or killed as a result of Benjamin's actions. She factored in public safety in the length of the sentence.
At about 11:30 p.m. March 12, 2011, Benjamin was stopped by Carpentersville police on Route 25 on an accusation he was speeding.
The state contended Benjamin refused to provide the officer with his driver's license and proof of insurance. When Benjamin tried to reach into the center console of the truck, the officer became alarmed and a struggle ensued. Benjamin drove off, dragging the officer with him several feet.
Benjamin said that night he was "upset because I've done it again," but became afraid when an officer yelled at him, and then he tried to audiorecord the officer. He said the officer slapped the cellphone out of his hand.
"I fled out of fear," Benjamin told the judge. He denied dragging the police officer.
Benjamin sped south on Route 25, west on Route 68, then west on Route 72 through the downtown Dundees. It ended when he hit a West Dundee police car. Another police car pushed his vehicle in to an electrical pole, causing a transformer to explode. Benjamin got out of the truck and was subdued by a stun gun and physical restraint; he said he thought the vehicle was blowing up.
His blood-alcohol level was .16, twice the legal limit.
Benjamin must pay West Dundee $31,097 for damage to the police car, within five years of his release from prison.
Sams had mentioned the crash happened the weekend before St. Patrick's Day, which typically is a busy time at bars in the downtown Dundees. But Lovig argued no one had been injured. She also pointed out that Benjamin could not have been driving at speeds of 100 mph.
Benjamin was on parole for a DUI conviction at the time.