WEST CHESTER — A Chester County Common Pleas Court judge sentenced a Lancaster County man whom he described as a “ticking time bomb” to more than a decade and a half in prison for attacking and “nearly killing” a Coatesville police officer with a knife.

Judge Patrick Carmody said he considered Michael John White II “a loaded gun without a safety on,” and said he had no assurance that the defendant would not hurt someone else when he was released from state prison.

“What could you do to assure me that you won’t stab someone else someday?” Carmody asked.

“Maybe then I wouldn’t have a knife,” responded White.

Carmody sentenced White, 21, of Manheim, Lancaster County, to 16 to 32 years in state prison for the 2021 attack on veteran Chester County law enforcement officer William “Bill” Cahill. White used a martial arts double-edged karambit knife to slice the back of Cahill’s head and stab him under his protective vest.

The attack, which District Attorney Chief of Staff Andrea Cardamone, who prosecuted the case called “unpredicted, unprovoked, and unexpected,” left Cahill with nerve damage and a drooping eye. It led to his forced retirement from active duty police work after more than 35 years.

“This was a brutal and violent on Officer Cahill,” said Cardamone, noting that in the interaction between the officer and White in the moments prior to the stabbing, “Officer Cahill could not have been more polite and caring.”

Cardamone asked Carmody to set White’s sentence at a minimum of 15 years, citing his age and his apparent remorse. White pleaded guilty in June to charges of attempted murder, prohibitive offensive weapons, and theft.  But Carmody, in handing down an even stiffer sentence than what Cardamone asked for, said he would have given White the maximum of 20 to 40 years in prison had he not pleaded guilty without going to trial.

Defense attorney Michael Marinaro of Lancaster, who alluded to his client’s mental health issues in his presentation, asked Carmody to keep his sentence closer to the 9½-year minimum recommended in state sentencing guidelines. He said that even though the defendant acted “irrationally and impulsively,” in the end he knew right from wrong and took responsibility for his attack.

For his part White, wearing a dingy white T-shirt, green prison pants and speaking in a distant, hollow voice, tried to apologize to Cahill, who sat with his wife and family in the front row of Carmody’s courtroom, as more than three dozen law enforcement officers packed the gallery.

“I am just glad that Officer Cahill is still with us,” said White. “I regret every day and night what I did. I just wish I could get the mental health help I need.”

On Sept. 3, 2021, Cahill and fellow Coatesville officer Corporal Chris McCarthy responded to the report of an internal theft at the Turkey Hill store on West Kings Highway in the city around 1:45 p.m.

Cahill and McCarthy met with White, an employee at the store, in the management office after discussing the theft accusations with the store management. They learned the manager believed White had stolen about $3,000 from the register over the past several months. That day he was confronted by the manager after allegedly stealing another $200.

In the interview, White allegedly told police he would return the money he had just stolen, along with the $3,000 that he had in a safe at his residence. The pair told him he was free to leave to retrieve the money, as White’s father was waiting in the parking lot to take him home.

After a calm and professional conversation that took place in front of other

witnesses, Cahill reached out and shook White’s hand and planned to leave the premises. But White allegedly shoved him and stabbed him multiple times in the head and face with the fixed, 4-inch-long curved-blade knife. Wounded, Cahill helped take White into custody, along with McCarthy.

Cahill was driven to Brandywine Hospital in nearby Caln and then transported by helicopter to the Reading Hospital, which has a trauma unit.

He had been held since his arrest at Chester County Prison without bail.

Cahill, although a 35-year veteran of law enforcement, was relatively new to the Coatesville department when the attack occurred. He began working there as a patrol officer in July 2021 after having retired from the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department, where he had attained the rank of lieutenant.

According to Cardamone, Cahill has largely recovered from his injuries, although he said he had left police work and now worked as a security consultant.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.