YORK, Maine — Longtime York pediatrician Dr. Stephen Brennan was arrested by town police just after midnight Friday, following an incident that involved the use of the department’s police dog.
Brennan, 63, of Cape Neddick who runs Yorkids Pediatrics, was admitted to York Hospital that night but was released Wednesday, according to a hospital spokesperson. Police said Brennan had been aggressive during the event, and the facts surrounding the arrest warranted the use of the K-9 officer Gunter. His attorney, Alexander Spadinger of Shaheen and Gordon in Dover, New Hampshire, said he is confident Brennan was the victim of an “overly aggressive police response.”
Police Chief Charles Szeniawski said, as with all incidents where use of force occurs, “we investigate this at command staff level. This started right after it happened. As of now, we’ve reached no conclusions whatsoever.”
Brennan was pulled over by York police Officer Jon Rogers at 12:15 a.m. for failure to dim his headlights, according to Sgt. Brian Curtin. Brennan “immediately got out of his vehicle and became aggressive, and ran toward officer Rogers’ cruiser,” Curtin said.
“He kept coming toward officer Rogers in an aggressive manner after repeated orders to stop. He did eventually stop and then moved furtively back toward his vehicle,” Curtin said. “But then he turned around and again charged toward the officer, who thought he was in danger.”
It is at this point that Rogers, Gunter’s handler, released the dog, Curtin said. Brennan “still didn’t cooperate and was physically fighting officer Rogers and the dog until he was brought under control,” Curtin said. “There was some kind of verbal exchange, too.”
According to Curtin, there was no evidence that Brennan was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He also said Rogers did not see a weapon of any kind. “There may have been some medical issues going on, but at the time that wasn’t evident to the officer,” he said.
By this time, an ambulance had been called to the scene and Brennan was taken to York Hospital. He was arrested at the hospital on a summons that alleges refusing to submit to arrest or detention.
Spadinger said an investigation by his office is underway.
“Dr. Brennan is a well-respected physician in the community. He has hired Shaheen & Gordon to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident on Sept. 20,” he said. “We look forward to reviewing the video and audio recordings that are currently in the possession of the York Police Department.
“We are confident the recordings from that night will show Dr. Brennan was the victim of an overly aggressive police response, and that he did not commit any criminal conduct whatsoever.”
Curtin, though, looked at the incident through a different lens.
“You have to clue in on the irrational behavior,” he said. “Most people stay in the car. The use of a dog is less than lethal use of force. If it was one of us, we might have tazed him or hands-on fought this guy. It was much better use of force with a canine. When I saw this report, I thought everything worked the way it was supposed to work.”
Brennan is expected to be arraigned in York District Court Nov. 19.