ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–St. Louis County Judge Richard Bresnahan is coming under criticism for his 2010 decision to give probation to a burglar who is now accused in a burglary-related shooting that left a Florissant police officer partially paralyzed .
Officer Mike Vernon remains hospitalized and unable to move his legs, after he was shot on duty by a burglary suspect who allegedly sprang from a dumpster and fired several shots early Memorial Day morning.
The suspect, Brian Lamont Cannon Jr., 20, is charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and burglary. Cannon is being held on a $500,000 bond.
In December 2010, Cannon pleaded guilty to burglary and theft. Judge Bresnahan gave Cannon a seven year “suspended sentence,” with 120 days jail “shock time” and five years probation.
“I think it calls the system into question,” said Florissant Police Chief William Karabas, “It certainly doesn’t send a strong signal when people do these type of things and probably think they’re going to get a very lenient sentence.”
Had Cannon been sentenced to prison for seven years in 2010, he would have had five years remaining to serve the morning Vernon was shot. Officer Vernon was responding a burglar alarm in the 1800 block of Banstead Drive in Florissant, and was searching an area behind Surrey Plaza when the shooting occurred.
Former Florissant mayor and police Chief Robert Lowery is also upset with the second chance Cannon was given.
“He should have been in prison. He should have served that seven or eight years that he was given,” Lowery said, “Had he served it, this officer would have never been shot.”
Court records showed no indication that a gun or violence was involved in the earlier cases for which the judge gave Cannon probation.
Judge Bresnahan was not available for comment. A court clerk took our message seeking Bresnhan’s comment on the case, and his thoughts on when suspended sentences are proper. The clerk said Bresnahan was in court today, but he would give him the message.