DANVILLE — A Danville man convicted of fleeing from and getting involved in a brawl with the Tilton police chief has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
Robert Cunningham, 33, who listed an address in the 500 block of Brickyard Road, received the sentence Friday from Vermilion County Judge Tom O’Shaughnessy, who imposed seven years for aggravated battery to a peace officer and three years for aggravated fleeing from police, to be served at the same time.
Cunningham is eligible for day-for-day good time and was given credit on his sentence for 49 days already served.
A jury convicted him in June of the felonies, which stemmed from a May 5, 2021, incident.
Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy said testimony at trial was that Cunningham had reportedly caused a disturbance at the Tilton Village Hall on that afternoon, then led police on a chase after leaving.
Tilton Police Chief Phillip Bernardi tried to pull him over but Cunningham fled past a dead end, drove on a sidewalk, through a parking lot, went on the wrong side of streets, and blew stop signs while going more than 80 mph on Georgetown Road.
The chase ended when his vehicle got stuck in a ditch, and Cunningham was arrested. In a squad car, he was able to get his cuffed hands from behind him to in front of him, then persuaded Bernardi to open the back door.
Witnesses said Cunningham then “launched” himself at the chief, leading to a fight on the side of the road, witnessed by several people.