Former San Antonio police officer James Brennand charged with shooting teenager


A former San Antonio police officer has been indicted after shooting an unarmed teenager eating in his car in a McDonald’s parking lot in October, prosecutors said this week.

James Brennand faces one count of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault of a public servant after body camera video showed him shooting 17-year-old Erik Cantu, prosecutors announced Thursday at a news conference.

Cantu was taken to a hospital in “critical but stable condition,” police said at the time. His family announced he was released from the hospital last week, according to San Antonio-based station KSAT.

“The video of the shooting has been seen all over the country,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales (D) said at the press conference. “The damage that arises from an incident like this sends ripples throughout our community.”

The Washington Post could not immediately reach Brennand on Friday.

Brennand attorney Nicholas Lahood told CNN that his client has been judged by the public “without the benefit of his side of the story being known.” Lahood did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment Friday.

“We expect that more information will be revealed that will further shed light on this incident,” Lahood told CNN.

Police in Texas are charging a former officer who shot an unarmed teenager while eating a hamburger

If convicted, Brennan could face up to 20 years on the attempted murder charge. Each count of aggravated assault carries a maximum potential sentence of 99 years.

On the night of Oct. 2, while Brennand was investigating a report of an unrelated disturbance at the fast-food restaurant, the officer — who was fired less than a week after the shooting — saw a car he said had fled from him overnight. Before. He called backup because he suspected the car was stolen, police said.

Brennand suddenly opened the driver’s door and ordered Cantu to get out, body camera footage released by police showed. Moments later, Cantu turned the car around, with the door still open, and hit Brennand with it. The officer stepped back and fired five times. He fired at the car five more times as it drove away. Cantu was hit “several” times, police said.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus called the shooting “unwarranted.” Gonzales, the district attorney, dismissed the police charges against Cantu. Brennand turned himself in to police days later and he was arrested.

At least two other former San Antonio police officers have been indicted this year for alleged use of excessive force. In February, a grand jury indicted former officer Oscar Cruz Jr. for firing two shots at teenagers who ran away from him as he responded to two calls about teenagers pulling car door handles, KSAT reported. He was charged with deadly conduct, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Michael Brewer, another former officer, was charged after putting his knee on a handcuffed man’s head and neck, KSAT reported. He was charged with unlawful restraint, the Express-News reported.

Both incidents were recorded by the officers’ body cameras.

This week’s indictment is a relief to Cantu and his family, attorney Ben Crump said in a statement shared with The Post.

“The grand jury’s decision to indict one count of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery is a significant step toward justice — but there is still a long road ahead,” Crump said. “We will continue to fight for accountability and transparency through the legal process.”

Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment