HOUSTON — Former San Antonio police officer James Brennand, 25, has been charged in the shooting of Erik Cantu, 17, in a McDonald’s parking lot on October 2.
The charges —two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant— are felonies and could increase if Cantu doesn’t survive his injuries.
As of this report, Cantu is unconscious and on life support fter multiple surgeries.
Bodycam footage released by the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) shows Brennand responding to a disturbance call at the McDonald’s. Brennand turns his attention to a vehicle across the parking lot that he says looked like a vehicle from a separate incident.
Brennand opens the door and orders Cantu out of the vehicle without announcing himself. In a panic, Cantu backs up and drives away, prompting Brennand to open fire, shooting 10 rounds at Cantu.
Cantu was shot four times.
Bexar County court records show Brennand was arrested on Tuesday and released Wednesday on a $200,000 bond. A hearing has been set for November 23.
After Brennand’s arrest, many argued that Brennand should be charged with attempted murder. In a statement regarding the shooting, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) agreed with the sentiment.
“LULAC denounces this shooting which was nothing short of the attempted murder of two innocent civilians by a bad cop,” said LULAC’s national president, Domingo Garcia. “Our hearts go out to the family, and we demand that the officer responsible for this violent, unprovoked attack be brought to justice.”
“We do not tolerate the violation of our civil rights under the color of law,” Garcia continued. “Our young people should be able to trust, not fear, police officers. LULAC will monitor this matter very closely to ensure this officer faces the consequences of his criminal actions.”
Initially, Brennand reported that Cantu intentionally struck him with his vehicle, which prompted him to open fire, and that Cantu had fled from him the day before. SAPD Chief William McManus later confirmed via a press conference that officers didn’t find any guns on Cantu or in the car.
He added that neither Cantu nor the car he was driving had anything to do with the disturbance call Brennand was responding to.
“We look forward with an expectation of justice from Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales once the Civil Rights Division receives the facts from the investigation and presents them to the grand jury,” said Rudy Rosales Jr., LULAC’s Texas state director. “Our youths should not be open targets to law enforcement simply because of who they are, their appearance, or where they happen to be.”
McManus described the video as “horrific” and said Brennand was in violation of San Antonio police policy.
“There’s no question in anybody’s mind looking at the video that the shooting is not justified,” he said. “And it took us a couple days to terminate Brennand, but he was gone pretty quickly.”
Questions about whether Brennand lied to his superiors and in his report are beginning to surface. SAPD initially reported that they tried to detain Cantu and he resisted arrest. The story changed to claim Cantu intentionally struck the former officer and fled. Neither version was true.
“Brennand stated he fired his weapon out of fear for his life, alleging the driver struck him with his car. Investigators dispute the claim based on video of the shooting,” read the opening statement of the LULAC press release.
Former officer Brennand had only seven months of experience and was a probationary officer. San Antonio police officers are required to be on probation for an entire year after graduation from the police academy.
When asked if Brennard lied in his report, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office directed Latino Rebels to a statement.
“The arrest does not complete the SAPD investigation into the Oct. 2, 2022, shooting,” read the statement. “Our office awaits the conclusion of the investigation so that our Civil Rights Division can fully review the case and take whatever action justice demands. Consistent with the policy of the Civil Rights Division, this case will be presented to a grand jury.”