Man who fought cops sent to prison

Brenton Cunningham, center, is seen during his sentencing hearing Friday in 35th Circuit Court in Corunna.

CORUNNA — A Howell man was sentenced to prison Friday by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart on five felony counts of assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer.

Brenton Cunningham, 27, was sentenced to one year, four months to two years in prison and ordered to pay court costs and fines. Stewart also ordered Cunningham to undergo mental health counseling while serving his sentence, and credited him with 93 days served in jail.

Before announcing sentence, Stewart admonished Cunningham, who still has eight active warrants from other locales for offenses including burglary, strong arm robbery and felonious assault, and for “never showing up for court.”

“You’ve got a warrant for burglary and theft of property. There are two probation violations pending on two different files,” Stewart said. “You have a warrant for failing to complete a presentence investigation report in Mackenzie and Erie (Ohio) counties. You’ve got a warrant for aggravated assault in Livingston County … four warrants in Livingston County. This is not the kind of record of someone who’s not a bad guy and doesn’t do drugs.”

Defense attorney Adam Pfeiffer asked Stewart to include in any sentence mental health counseling for his client.

“He’s never had the opportunity to be evaluated,” Pfeiffer said. “He’s never been able to possibly get treatment. He’s never gotten the help he needs. This cycle may be able to be stopped.”

“That’s because he never shows up to court,” Stewart said. “He’s got eight warrants. I’ve never seen so many outstanding warrants.”

Cunningham was charged with the five resisting/obstructing counts, along with one count of disarming a police officer, following a June 29, 2019, incident in which he fought police officers. He was arrested at that time, and lodged at the Shiawassee County Jail.

He was arraigned July 1, 2019, by 66th District Court Judge Terrance Dignan; he pleaded not guilty. The disarming a police officer charge was later dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office.

Prosecutor Deana Finnegan asked the court to impose a prison term due to the numerous pending charges Cunningham faces, including a probation violation out of North Dakota.

“I think the only way to ensure Mr. Cunningham gets any mental health treatment is if the court were to sentence him to a term with the MDOC, where they do have programs to assist him. Clearly, this is not a person that is amenable to community supervision,” she said.

Cunningham said he “lashed out” against police officers, which led to the charges.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “I take full responsibility. I want to make better choices and decisions.”

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