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Alleged 2-state crime spree ends with Taser incident in Prescott

Justin M. Brennan

A Prescott man intentionally tore up an east metro lawn two hours before using a stolen credit card to buy beer and tobacco back in Wisconsin, according to documents filed last week in Pierce County Circuit Court.

The alleged crime spree ended with the suspect, Justin M. Brennan, being shot with a stun gun outside his Prescott home, but not before he spit in a police officer's face, the documents state.

Prosecutors later charged the 37-year-old with two felonies — identity theft and discharging bodily fluids at an officer — and misdemeanor counts of theft and resisting an officer. He was released on a $7,000 signature bond May 17 at his initial court appearance.

A criminal complaint states Prescott police were called the afternoon of May 16 to the Broad Street Bar, where a man said his wallet and cellphone, along with a cellphone belonging to a woman with him, were stolen from his locked vehicle.

The man said he learned his bank card had already been used within the past couple hours for purchases of about $40 each at Price RiteLiquors and Freedom Value Center — both in Prescott.

An officer went to Price Rite Liquors and spoke with an employee who, after narrowing down customers based on purchases, reviewed surveillance video of a man in a red T-shirt buying $40.06 in merchandise.

The officer then went to Freedom Value Center, where recent receipts turned up a $41.87 purchase made about five minutes after the transaction at Price Rite Liquors, according to the complaint.

The officer then met up with the complainant, who the complaint states confirmed the receipts from both stores matched the unauthorized purchases reported by his bank. The alleged theft victims were shown a photo of the suspect, but they said they didn't recognize him.

While the officer was out looking for the suspect, he got a phone call from the female complainant who said she spotted the suspect driving up Orange Street. The officer went that way and found a pickup matching the description parked outside.

The officer went into the apartment complex and knocked on a door that was answered by a man allegedly matching the suspect in the liquor store surveillance video. He was asked to step outside with the officer and complied.

The man, identified as Brennan, was confronted with the theft and fraudulent purchase allegations, which he allegedly denied. The complaint states Brennan then became angry and agitated during the interaction.

Brennan allegedly made for the door after hearing the officer call for backup, which prompted the officer to grab him. The officer then brought out his Taser while attempting to get Brennan to lie on the ground.

Brennan got to the ground, but allegedly moved as if to get up after seeing his father come outside.

The officer said in his report that Brennan's clenched fists, extreme anger and other signs of agitation led to him deploying the Taser. He was later cuffed and arrested.

Brennan's father later let the officer inside the apartment. The complaint states the officer found two cases of beer, multiple packs of cigarettes and cans of chewing tobacco that the father said Brennan had recently purchased. The officer also found three wallets in Brennan's bedroom, along with two iPhones, according to the charging document.

While police were investigating the incident, they got word from Cottage Grove, Minn., police, who were investigating a vandalism report from 1:17 p.m. that day. A home at 8682 Ingersoll Ave. sustained lawn damage after a pickup drove across it, the complaint states.

The homeowner named Brennan, his former friend, as the suspect. The complaint states the resident said Brennan had threatened to vandalize his property in the past.

A Cottage Grove officer contacted Pierce County dispatchers to have Prescott police look for Brennan, only to learn that officers already had him in custody.

The Cottage Grove officer went to the Prescott scene and attempted to interview Brennan. He allegedly spit in her face during the interview.

He later told the officer the spitting incident was an accident and he wanted to talk about the Cottage Grove report. Brennan told the Cottage Grove officer that he'd been upset with the Ingersoll Avenue man over a cash disagreement and drove across his lawn because he was mad, according to the complaint.

The complaint states Cottage Grove police were seeking formal charges in Washington County, though the status of that case was not available on Monday.

Brennan is set to return to Pierce County court on June 6.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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