DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Robert Cunningham, who was shot by Tilton’s police chief during a struggle in 2021, will spend the next seven years in prison for the crimes he committed during that incident.

Jacqueline Lacy, the Vermilion County State’s Attorney, said Cunningham was sentenced on Friday for aggravated battery to a peace officer and aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude. He was found guilty on June 6, a little over two years after he fled from and then attacked Chief Phillip Bernardi.

An investigation of the events of May 5, 2021, revealed that Cunningham was involved in a “commotion” at Tilton’s Village Hall. Bernardi responded and tried to stop Cunningham in his car, but Cunningham sped away with three others inside, including two children.

The chase reached speeds of 80 miles per hour through Tilton before Cunningham’s car became stuck in a ditch. The adults were arrested, with Cunningham’s hands being cuffed behind his back. Lacy said that while sitting in Bernardi’s squad car, Cunningham was able to move his arms to the front of his body. When the chief opened the car door to resecure Cunningham’s arms, Cunningham pushed through the door and attacked Bernardi.

Lacy said that in the ensuing struggle, Cunningham started choking Bernardi with his legs, almost causing him to pass out. The chief warned Cunningham that he would shoot if he did not stop; when Cunningham refused to stop, Bernardi shot him in the torso and was released from Cunningham’s stranglehold.

Lacy determined the shooting was justified, as Bernardi reasonably believed that Cunningham was trying to kill him or choke him unconscious.

In a statement announcing Cunningham’s sentencing, Lacy expressed her gratitude for Bernardi’s decades of service in protecting the commuity.

For attacking Bernardi, Cunningham was sentenced to seven years in prison. A three-year sentence for fleeing and eluding will be served concurrently.