BAY CITY, MI — A Bay County judge made a rare ruling in finding an Essexville man not guilty a week after a jury found him guilty of assaulting police.
A jury on Wednesday, July 16, found Dennis F. Brenay Jr., 38, guilty of assaulting, resisting or obstructing police. The charge is normally a two-year felony, but Brenay’s criminal record increased the maximum penalty to three years.
The same day, the jury acquitted his father, 63-year-old Dennis F. Brenay Sr., of the same charge.
After Bay County Assistant Prosecutor Jordan E. Case rested his case in the trial, defense attorneys Adam C. Reddick and Marcus Garske argued for Schmidt to issue a directed verdict of not guilty.
“It was our allegation that the police illegally entered into the clients’ home and there’s a law that says you can resist illegal police conduct,” Reddick said. “That was our argument, that ‘Yes, judge, if he is resisting, he has the right to because they illegal entered his home.'”
Schmidt declined to rule on the matter during the trial but took it under advisement and let the case proceed. After the jury found Brenay Jr. guilty, Schmidt scheduled Case and the defense team to present oral arguments on the directed verdict issue on Thursday, July 24.
The arguments were held and Schmidt sided with Reddick and Garske, issuing a directed verdict of not guilty in Brenay Jr.’s case. The defendant was free on bond during the trial and at the time of the Thursday hearing.
The charges against the father and son stem from an incident that occurred Nov. 30, when police received a complaint from a woman alleging Brenay Jr. had violated a personal protection order she had against him by leaving comments for her on Facebook and trying to contact her via text message. Officers went to Brenay’s home in the 500 block of Borton Avenue in Essexville.
Upon their arrival, Brenary Sr. came to the door. The father told police his son was home, then slammed the door in their faces, the officers wrote in their reports, contained in court records.
A short time later, Senior reopened the door with his son and wife behind him, court records show. The officers told them that Junior was under arrest, but Senior kept interrupting them as they spoke and proceeded to try closing the door again, police report.
One officer was able to reach inside the house and grab Junior’s arm as Senior continued to try closing the door, court records show. Junior tried pulling away and his father tried pushing him inside the house as a struggle ensued.
As the struggle progressed into the house, an officer tried to stun Junior with his Taser but the barbs did not connect properly. Police eventually managed to get Junior subdued, but he continued to struggle even after they placed handcuffs on him, they wrote in their reports.
Reddick said the directed verdict is uncommon, but he is glad to have received it on Brenay Jr.’s behalf.
“It really doesn’t ever happen,” Reddick said. “Even though this is exceptionally rare for something like this to happen, the defendant is obviously very satisfied. We believe that Judge Schmidt followed the law correctly and we certainly appreciate and respect his decision today.”