HOUSTON — On Sunday, a San Antonio Police officer opened fire on a teen who had been eating in his car at a McDonald’s parking lot on the 11700 block of Blanco Road.
Video released by the San Antonio Police Department shows Officer James Brennand opening the driver-side door and ordering 17-year-old Erik Cantu out of the car without first identifying himself.
(WARNING: May be disturbing for some viewers)
Within seconds, the car is seen backing up slightly, at which time Brennand, who had been on the force only seven months, opened fire and shot at the car five times. In a panic, Cantu began driving away, with Brennand firing five more rounds at the vehicle.
There was also a 17-year-old girl in the vehicle with Cantu.
Police found them a block away after the victims exited the vehicle.
Brennand was responding to an unrelated disturbance call at the McDonald’s and claimed he recognized the driver and the vehicle when he arrived, which led him to approach the car. The officer told his superiors that Cantu had fled from him days before in a separate incident, and that the teen intentionally struck him with his vehicle in the parking lot, prompting him to open fire.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus confirmed in a press conference that officers didn’t find any guns on Cantu or in the car. He added that neither Cantu nor the car had anything to do with the disturbance call Brennand was responding to on Sunday night.
“We don’t know who was driving that vehicle the day before, so I don’t know what the officer was thinking. But, we don’t know who was driving that vehicle the day before, nor did he,” McManus said.
Brennard was initially placed on administrative duties but was then fired. He is unable to appeal his termination, as he was new to the force and considered a probationary officer.
San Antonio’s KENS 5 asked McManus if the incident would prompt a closer look at SAPD training practices.
“Our training is sound,” McManus said. “There’s nothing that we need to change that would fix what happened. That was an individual officer’s actions, his own discretion. And again, there’s nothing that I can say that could justify what happened.”
Cantu has been charged with evading detention in a vehicle and assault on a peace officer due to the car door grazing Brennand’s leg.
Originally, police reported that they had tried to detain Cantu. They then claimed that he intentionally struck the former officer and fled, prompting Brennand to shoot at Cantu 10 times.
“The Bexar County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division will fully review the evidence submitted by the San Antonio Police Department into the shooting of Erik Cantu by a now former police officer once the SAPD investigation is complete,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzalez in a statement.
“The DA’s Office will also review all evidence related to the charges against Erik Cantu once we have received it,” the statement said. “The DA’s Office can make no comment on whether charges may be pursued against either individual until all evidence has been reviewed.”
KENS 5, along with multiple other local and regional outlets, originally reported the police narrative as fact, but many have since taken those stories down, as noted by the deleted story on the KENS 5 website titled “Man shot by police after hitting an officer with his car, police say”—a story that turned out to be based on SAPD’s intentional falsification.
Authorities say an investigation into the shooting could take a year.
*UPDATE: Following publication, San Antonio Police Department’s public information officer responded to Latino Rebels’ request for comment with the following statement: “This case is still under investigation and as such we cannot comment at this time.”
Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo
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