A man who was filmed assaulting young people posting George Floyd flyers on a bike trail in Bethesda last summer was sentenced to probation on Tuesday.
Anthony Brennan III, 61, of Kensington, received three years probation, the first of which will be supervised. He was ordered to complete anger management classes and an alcohol and substance abuse evaluation, and to have no contact with the three victims. If he violates his probation, he faces up to three years in prison.
Brennan pleaded guilty in December to three counts of second-degree assault for the videotaped incident June 1, one week after Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police and protests erupted worldwide. Brennan could have been sentenced to prison time.
Brennan targeted the victims because he wanted to suppress and “cancel” their message, state prosecutor George Simms III said.
Two of the victims and Brennan himself spoke emotionally at the sentencing.
One victim said she had been nervous about going out to post the flyers with her sister and their friend but that she was looking forward to “a day of poetical action.” Instead, she was assaulted and often relives the fear she felt as Brennan attacked her.
“The video doesn’t show the fear, pain, anxiety and hopelessness of those moments,” she said. “My screams haunt my nightmares. You haunt my nightmares."
She thanked Brennan for saying as he attacked them that they would “never amount to anything” because now she knows that they will. She said she would forgive him someday and that she hoped he would find peace.
Brennan said he acted impulsively and lost control.
“I’m just so very sorry. I never meant to harm anyone. I’m so filled with deep, deep remorse,” he said.
The court found Brennan’s apology sincere, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Eric Johnson said.
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office called Brennan’s actions “reprehensible” and said he was held accountable for his actions.
Prosecutors had sought three years probation for Brennan, plus 50 hours community service, an apology, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week and attendance at anger management classes and substance abuse counseling sessions.
Brennan was caught on video gripping a young woman’s arm as he ripped a flyer out of her hand along the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. One of two other young people with her told News4's Pat Collins that Brennan, who had been riding a bike along the trail, rammed him with his bike and pinned him to the ground.
One victim in the attack, who asked to remain anonymous, said he and others were posting flyers in support of protests against the killing of George Floyd.
Video shows Brennan with a flyer in his hand, confronting a woman. She puts her hand up to drive him away and shouts “Get away from me.”
Then, he turns to a second woman. Her back is to a fence and she's much shorter than him. Brennan grips her forearm, which shakes as she tries to fight him off. He rips a flyer from her hand as the man and first woman scream at him.
“Do not touch her! Do not touch her, sir,” the first woman screams, her voice going hoarse. She comes to the second woman’s defense and pushes Brennan away.
“Get off of her,” she screams, pointing her finger in his face.
Then, Brennan walks away and grabs his bike. That’s when the man says Brennan turned to him.
“He sees me recording him and sees the fact that I recorded him as he was doing that, and he grabs his bike and he runs it into me and pins me to the ground,” the man said.
The video shows Brennan rushing toward the man. Then the camera drops.
“He pretty much screamed at us. He was saying, ‘F--- you. You guys [are] inciting riots.’ He kept saying we’re ‘deviants.’ I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that," the man said.
The man said he was part of a project that posts flyers in affluent neighborhoods to raise awareness about racial injustice.
U.S. Park Police circulated photos of Brennan. They received hundreds of tips — including some that publicly smeared innocent men — and developed Brennan as a suspect and contacted him. Then Brennan surrendered.
He said in a statement at the time that his behavior was unacceptable.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.