Probation for cyclist in Capital Crescent Trail assault that went viral

The Maryland man who pleaded guilty in December to assaulting three young adults who were posting Black Lives Matter posters along the Capital Crescent Trail in June 2020 apologized, said he has undergone months of alcohol and anger management counseling, and was sentenced to three years probation Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

On Dec. 16, Anthony Brennan III, of Kensington, Maryland, pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree assault in the June 1 incident, which was captured in a viral video by one of the victims.

Two of the three victims gave victim impact statements before Brennan was sentenced.

Callan Daniel, a college student, described the “fear, pain, anxiety and helplessness of the moment.” Even though her face was blurred in the viral video, “my friends recognized me by my screams.”

Having been raised Catholic, Daniel said: “It will take some time, but someday I will forgive you.”

Her friend, Isaac Hillman wasn’t so sure: “Frankly, I don’t think I’m ready to forgive, and I don’t think I will for a long time. I’m not sure that these actions, including Alcoholics Anonymous, are taken from real goodness, or being caught and suffering the consequences of his action. I want the defendant to think about that.”

Brennan told the victims “I’m so very sorry” in a teleconference Tuesday morning. “I pray this doesn’t affect you in the long term. I was in a bad, fragile state. I lost control.”

Brennan said he can’t defend his actions.

“To me, it seems as though God was sending me a message to change. We can all agree my behavior was wrong,” Brennan said, speaking from his attorney’s office.

Brennan’s lawyers David Moyse and Andrew Jezic said at the time of the assault their client was in a spiral fueled by years of alcoholism, use of marijuana and anger management issues, as well as having lost his job.

“He was consumed by listening to different outlets of media. He was biking around seeing the damage at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he’d gone many times,” Moyse said.

“He was riding around and saw these flyers that said ‘Killer cops cannot go unpunished.’ Mr. Brennan lost all composure, and lost all decorum, and acted in a way that was completely wrong,” Moyse said. “He had no right to touch, or intimidate, or put in fear these young people who were simply expressing their view on this issue.”

Moyse told the judge that after his arrest Brennan had undergone 28 days of alcohol rehabilitation in Florida, and lived in a Maryland halfway house until Christmas Eve, when he moved back with his family.

Judge Eric Johnson said he found Brennan’s contrition genuine: “We have this thing in America called the Constitution. Mr. Brennan had no right to put his hands on them. He has a right to his own opinion, but he has no right to assault them.”

The judge added, “We cannot allow the toxicity of our society to influence our better judgment. On that day, you allowed your disagreement to manifest itself in criminal action. You are not a bad person, but the conduct was bad conduct.”

While pleading guilty, Brennan admitted grabbing flyers and a roll of blue painter’s tape from the arm of a 19-year-old woman, taunting the trio, and eventually charging his bicycle at an 18-year-old man, knocking him down as the victim videotaped the assaults.

Immediately after his arrest in June, Brennan apologized in a statement released by his lawyers: “I am sick with remorse for the pain and fear I caused the victims on the trail, and online.”

Before Brennan pleaded guilty, Montgomery County prosecutor George Simms said the three young people were posting Black Lives Matter flyers along the trail to protest the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking protests nationwide.

Simms said Brennan rode past the three, who were taping up posters. Brennan then circled back: “He got off his bike, and demanded they take down the Black Lives Matter signs.”

The maximum Brennan could have received would have been 10 years in prison for each misdemeanor.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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