ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is defending his 2010 decision to recommend probation and 120 days jail “shock time”– rather than seven years in prison — to a burglar who is now accused of shooting a Florissant police officer who may never walk again.
Calling the criticism leveled in the media against County Judge Richard Bresnahan, who issued the sentence, “unfair” McCulloch says it was his office that proposed the sentence which the judge approved, rather than taking the case to trial.
“Obviously, none of us could see into the future,” McCulloch said, “All things considered, at the time of the sentencing, it was an appropriate sentence, at the time, to be imposed.”
Brian Lamont Cannon Jr., 20, is accused of springing from a dumpster to fire several shots at Florissant Police Officer Mike Vernon in the early morning hours of Memorial Day.
Vernon had been searching for burglars heard fleeing from a home in the 1800 block of Banstead Drive in Florissant, when the shooting occurred behind the Surrey Plaza shopping mall.
In December 2010, Cannon stood before Judge Bresnahan pleading guilty to first-degree burglary and theft. Potentially, Bresnahan could have sentenced Cannon to seven years in prison, but he gave him five years probation and 120 days jail “shock time.”
Reacting to that sentence after the recent shooting, former Florissant Mayor Robert Lowery, who also served as Florissant Police Chief, condemned the second chance given to Cannon.
“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.”
Current Florissant Police Chief William Karabas was also critical of Cannon’s sentence.
“I think it calls the system into question,” Karabas said, “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.”
But McCulloch says it’s not unusual for first-time burglars who have no prior record to be given probation and shock time.
“There are literally thousands of cases a year in which we have burglary cases and they do not go to the penitentiary,” McCulloch said, “Not every body goes to the penitentiary or deserves to go to the penitentiary .”
Court records show there was no element of violence or weapons involved in the 2010 charges against Cannon. McCulloch also stressed this was Cannon’s first experience with the criminal justice system.“There is a horrible, tragic consequence down the line that couldn’t be anticipated, at the time two years ago, a year and a half ago, when that case was resolved, “McCulloch said, “
KMOX has left repeated messages with Judge Richard Bresnahan seeking comment on the case. Breshnahan has not returned our calls.
Meanwhile, Florissant Police Officer Vernon remains hospitalized, unable to move his legs. Fundraisers are underway in the community to defray the costs of his wife taking a leave of absence from her job to be at his bedside.
Cannon remains jailed on a $500,000 bond. He is charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and burglary.