An Oxford Schools Early College (OSEC) student is facing criminal charges after he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend at the high school Oct 3, then allegedly attempted to take an Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy’s gun, which resulted in the student firing a single shot inside the main office.
No one was struck by the bullet or injured as a result.
“We’re all very fortunate,” said Undersheriff Mike McCabe. “It just shows you how quick things can go wrong.”
Garrett Robert Brodeur, 18, was arraigned Oct. 5 in Rochester Hills 52-3 District Court on charges of attempting to disarm a police officer (a five-year felony), resisting or obstructing an officer in the discharge of his or her duty (a two-year felony), and domestic violence, a misdemeanor.
He was released on a $7,500 personal bond with numerous conditions. He’s to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend, he’s not allowed on school property and he must wear a GPS tether.
Brodeur has a probable cause hearing set for Oct. 16 and a preliminary exam scheduled for Oct. 23. Both are to begin at 1:15 p.m.
According to information released by the sheriff’s office, the situation began with Brodeur assaulting his ex-girlfriend in the OHS hallway at 3:19 p.m.
There’s “a written agreement” in place between Brodeur and the school that requires him to keep his distance from his ex-girlfriend “due to previous incidents which had occurred on school grounds,” the sheriff’s office stated.
Brodeur is a fourth-year OSEC student attending Oxford through the schools of choice program because he lives in the Lake Orion district. Most of his classes are online, but he does have two seated classes, which require him to be at the high school for part of the day.
Following the alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend, Brodeur was being escorted to the main office by a male school staff member whom he struck “in the chest with a closed fist,” according to the sheriff’s office. This occurred at 3:20 p.m.
As a result of the alleged assault on his ex-girlfriend, Brodeur was placed under arrest.
He was being escorted to the front door by the school liaison officer and another deputy, who arrived on scene to assist, when Brodeur began to “physically struggle” with the officers, the sheriff’s office stated. This occurred at 4:12 p.m.
As both deputies were trying to subdue him, sheriff’s officials reported Brodeur reached for a holstered gun on one of the deputies and was able to pull the trigger, firing a single round through the bottom of the holster.
“There’s videotape of the entire incident,” McCabe said. “He’s fighting with two deputies and then goes for the deputy’s gun.”
“The gun never came out,” he noted.
The bullet ricocheted off the office floor and lodged in a nearby interior wall.
Following this, Brodeur was taken into custody, transported to a local hospital for “pre-existing medical issues.” He was examined and cleared, then transported to the county jail where he remained until after his arraignment, according to the sheriff’s office.
At the time of the alleged struggle with deputies, Brodeur was not handcuffed.
McCabe explained that’s because Brodeur’s “parents were there” and “they were agitated.”
“The deputies made a decision that rather than handcuff him in front of the parents, they would escort him out of the building (to) where they wouldn’t see us handcuffing him,” he said. “That was the decision they made that we’ve got to look at. They were trying to de-escalate the situation at the time.”
“If (Brodeur had been) really, really agitated, the deputies would have handcuffed him. (But) he was in a state where he was being cooperative at that point in time,” the undersheriff noted.
“Overall,” McCabe believes the deputies handled everything “very professionally.”
While “it’s easy to armchair quarterback,” he said the officers were dealing with “a volatile situation.”
“The deputies did a very good job of bringing this to a safe conclusion,” the undersheriff said.
It’s the contention of Brodeur’s attorney Kevin Laidler, who’s based in Orion, that the situation involving his client was the result of a medical condition known as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).
According to the Epilepsy Society in the United Kingdom, “Psychogenic means they are caused by mental or emotional processes, rather than by a physical cause. Psychogenic seizures may happen when someone’s reaction to painful or difficult thoughts and feelings affects them physically.”
Laidler described what Brodeur experiences in the following way:
“Whenever there’s certain stress triggers that he experiences, he goes into what looks like an epileptic seizure. He (becomes) rigid, loses consciousness. He doesn’t remember anything when these things happen after blacking out, basically.
“When he comes to from the actual seizure episode, he’s basically kind of like in a sleepwalking state. He’s agitated, angry, confused. He doesn’t remember anything until that starts to whittle away. These episodes can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, sometimes even longer.”
“It’s a very scary and traumatic experience. There not like fun blackouts. They are traumatic events,” Laidler noted.
According to Laider, Brodeur was diagnosed with PNES three years ago and takes four different medications to treat it.
“He undergoes therapy. He’s been to several doctors. I know he’s under chiropractic care as well to try to alleviate some of the symptoms,” the attorney said.
“His parents have been extremely involved in making sure that he’s (doing) all the things he’s supposed to,” Laidler noted. “And he’s extremely committed to it, too.”
Laidler indicated that what allegedly happened at OHS is “out of character for him.”
“He doesn’t have any history of violence,” he said.
That being said, it’s Laidler’s contention that Brodeur was experiencing one or more PNES episodes during the events at OHS.
“I don’t think there’s any question that’s what went on,” he said.
“It could be one episode. It could be multiple episodes. That we are not 100 percent sure of,” Laidler noted.
From the alleged assaults on the ex-girlfriend and school staff member to the alleged struggle with deputies, Laider said Brodeur “doesn’t remember any of that at all.”
Laidler said there was some issue with the ex-girlfriend, then Brodeur went “into one of these episodes.”
“From what I’ve been told, he doesn’t remember anything after initially blacking out. So, it sounds like it was one long, continuous episode,” the attorney said.
Laidler claims his client continued to have seizures following the Oct. 3 incident.
“He had a couple of episodes at the jail on Wednesday night (Oct. 4) after the arrest,” he said. “They were fairly mild.”
Despite having no memory of the events at OHS, Laidler said, “I know he does feel remorseful for everything that happened to everybody.”
“He’s been told that’s what he did and he feels bad about that,” the attorney said.
With regard to Brodeur’s medical issues, McCabe said, “I can’t speak to that because I don’t know enough about it.”
“I’m not going to say the kid doesn’t have the condition,” he said. “I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.”
But the undersheriff did comment on what he observed from watching the video footage captured by the school’s surveillance system.
“What I saw on the videotape, I wouldn’t describe that as a seizure. It was something very deliberate,” McCabe said.
It appears to McCabe that Brodeur was “clearly in control of what he was doing” and the alleged grab for the gun was “an intentional act.”
But ultimately, McCabe said, “It will be up to a judge to determine what exactly happened and whether (Brodeur’s medical condition) was a contributing factor. That’s something that will play out in court.”
According to McCabe, the video footage shows something happening to Brodeur approximately 5 minutes prior to him allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Brodeur is seen falling to the floor from a sitting position in the school cafeteria. While laying on the floor, a school staff member comes to the scene and Brodeur then stands up shortly after.
Based on the video footage, a total of 53 minutes elapsed between the time Brodeur allegedly assaults his ex-girlfriend and the time he has his alleged struggle with deputies resulting in the shot being fired.
“The deputies were talking to him the whole time and he was not in any kind of zombie-like state,” McCabe said. “There were no indications of any kind of blackout or seizure. He was talking to the deputies and answering questions. They said there were no indications he was anything other than lucid. He was agitated because his parents were there.”
When asked about Laidler’s claim that Brodeur suffered two more psychogenic seizures while lodged at the jail, McCabe said he was unable to comment on that due to patient privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The only thing he could confirm was that Brodeur “was cleared at a local hospital for incarceration.”
Laidler indicated that Brodeur is not the type of person who goes around picking fights with people, “much less a sheriff’s deputy.”
“You look at his past and his record, he’s not a big fighter,” he said. “When he’s not under one of these strange spells, he’s not that kind of guy.”
Brodeur was described by Laidler as a model young man. “He doesn’t have any history of drug use or alcohol use, anything of that nature,” he said.
As a student, Brodeur receives high marks in all of his classes and participates in three sports (cross country, track and basketball), according to the attorney.
Laidler noted Brodeur is also a religious young man who’s active at Kensington Church in Orion Township.
McCabe indicated the sheriff’s office is looking into how Brodeur was able to allegedly get his fingers inside the deputy’s holster in order to pull the trigger.
He explained deputies have two kinds of holsters – one that accommodates a handgun and one that accommodates a gun with a flashlight attached to it.
“Some officers like to attach a flashlight, some don’t,” he said.
The deputy involved in this incident had the latter type of holster and, according to McCabe, there’s a “slight gap” that appears to allow someone with thin fingers to reach inside.
“Somebody with a fat finger wouldn’t be able to do that,” McCabe explained. “From what I’m told, (Brodeur) has very, very thin fingers.”
“Because of that gap, we now have concerns that we’re going to take up with the manufacturer,” the undersheriff said. “Our training unit’s going to do an analysis of what occurred and how it occurred, then get with the manufacturer.”
“Is it a one-in-a-million chance that something like that would happen? Probably,” McCabe added. “But it only takes a one-in-a-million situation for a tragedy to occur.”