A cyclist on a Maryland trail who was captured on video roughly grabbing a young woman while she posted fliers against police brutality was arrested and charged Friday with three counts of second-degree assault, the police said.
The Maryland-National Capital Park Police said the cyclist, Anthony Brennan III, 60, of Kensington, Md., was tracked down after the agency received hundreds of tips from people who had seen the video, which has been viewed more than 29 million times on Twitter.
Before Mr. Brennan was arrested, social media users incorrectly identified two men as suspects, including a retired police official. The Montgomery County Department of Police and the attorney general of Maryland were forced to state that those men were not involved.
The police said that Mr. Brennan was biking along the Capital Crescent Trail near Washington on Monday at about 12:45 p.m. when he came upon three young people who were hanging fliers. Two of them were 19 and one was 18.
The fliers, described as “a call for community action,” read: “A man was lynched by the police. What are you going to do about it?” according to Captain Jeffrey Coe, a spokesman for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police.
Mr. Brennan began to argue about the fliers and “forcibly grabbed” them from one of the teenagers, the police said. He then pushed his bicycle toward another one of the teens and caused him to fall to the ground, the police said.
The encounter happened as thousands of demonstrations against police violence and racism have raged across the country in the days since George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck.
In the video, the cyclist, wearing bike shorts, a bike helmet and sunglasses, walks toward a young woman with papers in his hand, while another woman yells, “Do not touch her!” and a man yells, “Leave her alone!” The cyclist grabs the woman’s arm roughly, before another woman pushes him away, yelling, “Get off of her!” The cyclist then grabs his bike and charges at the young man recording the encounter, who falls to the ground.
The Maryland-National Capital Park Police said that detectives used “various sources” to corroborate information provided by the community before identifying Mr. Brennan as the primary suspect. After contacting Mr. Brennan and his lawyer on Friday, the police said, they got his permission to search his home, where they seized evidence.
After the police obtained an arrest warrant, Mr. Brennan turned himself into detectives on Friday evening. Each count of second-degree assault carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“I am sick with remorse for the pain and fear I caused the victims on the trail, and online,” Mr. Brennan said in a statement released by his lawyers, Andrew Jezic and David Moyse. “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.”
The statement noted that several people had their reputations tarnished after they were incorrectly identified as suspects online. It said that Mr. Brennan “understands that his apology will not be enough to right his wrongs.”
“Anthony Brennan recognizes that his outrageous behavior toward the young adult victims on the Crescent Trail was unacceptable and wrong,” the statement said. “The outrage felt in our community and across our country is completely justified.”
Mr. Brennan had worked for a branding company that distributes logos for promotional products but had not made a sale in months, as the business dried up during the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Moyse said.
The Maryland-National Capital Park Police said it appreciated “the courage and civic engagement of the victims who came forward in this matter.”
“We thank the community for the abundance of tips and information shared,” the agency said.