2020 | Police & Fire

Bicyclist in Capital Crescent Trail assault case wanted to clear those falsely accused, attorney says

Kensington man turned himself in after earlier interaction with police

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Anthony Brennan III, 60, of Kensington, was charged last week with accosting a group of teens on the Capital Crescent Trail who were putting up flyers that expressed outrage over the death of George Floyd.

Photo from park police

The attorney of a Kensington man charged last week with assaulting three teenagers on the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda says his client wanted to make sure authorities knew that others were being falsely accused in a social media groundswell.

Maryland-National Capital Park police arrested Anthony Brennan III, 60, on Friday, after they say he was the bicyclist who accosted a group of teenagers on June 1. The teens were putting up flyers that expressed outrage about the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, died on May 25 after a white police officer pinned him to the ground, with his knee on Floyd’s neck, for nearly nine minutes.

Andrew Jezic, of the Wheaton firm Jezic & Moyse, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat on Monday that Brennan called him on Thursday afternoon and asked if Jezic would represent him. They agreed to meet at 5 p.m. the next day.

“He did not know that anyone knew who he was,” Jezic wrote.

Before police identified Brennan, then arrested him, at least two people had been falsely accused of the attack as a wave of speculation swept across Twitter. One was a Bethesda man who is the head of an investment firm. The other was a former employee of the Montgomery County Police Department and the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority.

Jezic wrote that on Thursday night, as Brennan realized how many people were falsely accused, he and Jezic decided to move the appointment time to 9:30 a.m.

“When we changed the [appointment] time, on Thursday night, he did not know that the police knew who he was. We had already decided that we were going to tell the police that it was not the other people,” he wrote.

The video of Brennan, taken by one of the teens in the group, went viral last week, garnering millions of views and attracting the attention of multiple national media outlets. Maryland State Police, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh also got involved in the case.

According to the report from Park Police from Det. Crystal Lopez, Brennan was riding his bicycle around 12:43 p.m. on June 1 when he ran into an 18-year-old man and two 19-year-old women. Documents state that Brennan then got off his bicycle and asked to see the flyers.

Documents state that Brennan grabbed flyers from the man, then grabbed one of the women’s arms and tried to take flyers from her, but she got away. The man who had been accosted then started recording the encounter.

The video showed Brennan approaching the other woman in the group, who got trapped between him and a fence while the first woman screamed “Do not touch her. She has nothing. Do not touch her, sir.”

Brennan then grabbed a water bottle from the woman seen in the video and a roll of blue tape around her arm, bruising her.

Brennan paused, then grabbed his bike and rushed toward the man filming, pushing him to the ground. Documents state that Brennan held the man down with his bike, before the man ran away.

Brennan then biked toward the group, who he called “deviants” and accused of starting riots. Brennan circled the teens and taunted them, trying unsuccessfully to punch the man with a closed fist, documents state. He then biked away.

Police wrote that they identified the bicyclist as Brennan through a combination of anonymous tips, facial recognition software and a driver’s license photo of Brennan.

Police wrote that officers started surveilling Brennan at his Kensington home shortly after 8 a.m. on Friday. Brennan and his son then left the house and the two drove off together, running a stop sign at Baltimore and Connecticut avenues.

A Montgomery County police officer later stopped Brennan in the parking lot of the nearby Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and told him he had run the stop sign. Brennan told police he had hired Jezic as his attorney and had been advised not to answer questions.

After giving Jezic’s phone number to police, Brennan and his son were allowed to go, documents state.

Jezic told WTOP on Saturday that Brennan was on his way to see a priest that morning, but decided to go straight to Jezic’s office after the police stop.

Jezic told Bethesda Beat on Monday that Brennan realized he was a suspect when police stopped him.

Later on Friday, Jezic spoke with McCarthy and Lopez, agreeing to a search of Brennan’s house. Authorities found the bicycle, helmet and other evidence either in the home or nearby. Police obtained an arrest warrant before Brennan turned himself in.

Brennan is charged with three counts of second-degree assault. No court date is listed in the state’s court records, and Jezic told WTOP that they hope to resolve the matter without a court appearance.

Jezic confirmed to Bethesda Beat on Monday that Brennan has been fired from his job with MadeToOrder Inc., a creative services company based in California.

Brennan formally apologized for his actions last week in a statement released by his attorneys.

“I am sick with remorse for the pain and fear I caused the victims on the trail, and online. I am cooperating fully with authorities. I am committed to making amends by addressing, through counseling, the underlying issues that led to my abhorrent behavior,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com