York, ME — Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old postal worker, was on his way home from a friendly poker game when he allegedly made the mistake of failing to dim his headlights when passing another vehicle. Because the vehicle Ambler drove past was a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy, an hour later, he’d be dead — the life squeezed from his body by Austin’s finest. Pediatrician Stephen Brennan had a similar interaction over headlights with a cop in Maine, and though he didn’t die, like Ambler, Brennan was savagely attacked over the incident — up to and including having his body mauled by a K-9.
Though the incident happened more than two years ago, dash camera footage from that night was only just released as part of a settlement being paid out to Brennan. The taxpayers of York are shelling out $325,000 to pay for the violent actions of York police officer Jonathan Rogers and his K-9.
Despite beating and mauling a 63-year-old doctor who had harmed no one and committed no crime, York Town Manager Steve Burns and Acting Police Chief Owen Davis released a joint statement saying Rogers “simply did his job to keep York a safe place.”
If this is what cops do over headlights to keep people safe, the citizens of York would do well to remain in danger.
On the evening of Sept. 20, 2019, Brennan was on his way home and travelling in the opposite direction down the highway as Rogers. When the two vehicles approached each other, Brennan thought the officer’s headlights were too bright, so he flashed his high beams to alert the oncoming vehicle to dim their lights.
Flashing one’s high beams is a common occurrence when drivers are blinded by bright headlights. Likely everyone reading this article has done it before, and some have likely been mistaken. Often times, when one is mistaken, the driver of the oncoming vehicle actually turns on their high beams and the driver who flashed his headlights realizes their mistake and no harm is done.
Rogers could have easily flashed his headlights — or turn off his high beams if they were already on — to let Brennan know that he was mistaken or correct. But Rogers didn’t do that. Rogers was granted police powers in the community so he decided to use them against Brennan by initiating a traffic stop and detaining the pediatrician for no other reason than he could.
Brennan immediately pulled over and once he realized the officer was stopping him over flashing his headlights, he naturally became irritated.
As Brennan walked toward Rogers, he complied with orders to put his hands up but then initially refused when Rogers yelled, “get on the ground!” After all, this was over headlights and hardly warranted a police interaction, much less lying on the pavement at gunpoint.
As Rogers escalated and threatened to release the K-9 while holding the innocent doctor at gunpoint, however, Brennan eventually complied and got down on his knees. Despite the fact that he was on his knees, Rogers released the K-9 anyway, which began mauling Brennan.
As the K-9 tore into Brennan’s body, Rogers continued punching Brennan in the face and head, all the while, demanding that he “get on the ground” — in spite of the fact that he was already lying on the ground.
The dog mauled Brennan for over a minute as Rogers yelled the standard “stop resisting” command to justify the egregious and barbaric use of force over someone’s headlights. After Brennan was torn to shreds, Rogers handcuffed him and his power trip was complete.
When his fellow cops arrived, Rogers already began damage control.
“He looks like I beat the f—ing s— out of him. I really didn’t,” Rogers said. “I just released the dog.”
As Seacoast Online reports, Brennan suffered multiple injuries as a result of the dog bites that required months of follow-up and wound care treatment, including puncture wounds to both legs and his left arm, as well as a chest wall injury and trauma to his left eye, according to the statement.
Despite the hefty settlement, Rogers was never disciplined and remains on the force.
Acting Police Chief Owen Davis said York police conducted a “thorough investigation” that found Rogers’ actions followed all department operating procedures and used “the appropriate amount of force necessary to gain control of the situation while ensuring the safety of both parties.”
Apparently, unleashing a K-9 on a kneeling elderly doctor over a stop for headlights is “appropriate,” according to the department.