Texas DA names officer who shot 17-year-old in a McDonald’s parking lot
Oct 10, 2022, 12:14 PM | Updated: 12:53 pm
(San Antonio Police Department)
(CNN) — The Texas police officer who shot a 17-year-old man while he was eating a meal in a McDonald’s parking lot last week has been named, as the teen remains in critical condition, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in a statement.
San Antonio Officer James Brennand, described by the police department as a probationary officer with seven months of experience, was fired for violating the agency’s tactics, training and procedures, police said.
Brennand shot Erik Cantu who was still reported to be in critical condition on Saturday and is “literally fighting for his life,” his defense attorney, Brian Powers, told CNN on behalf of the teen’s family. Cantu was initially charged with evading detention in a vehicle and assaulting the officer, who had claimed he was struck by the door of the car as the teen backed up.
“While Sunday’s shooting of an unarmed teenager by a then-San Antonio Police officer remains under investigation, the facts and evidence we have received so far led us to reject the charges against Erik Cantu for further investigation,” Gonzales’ office said in a statement.
“Once SAPD completes its investigation into the actions of former Officer James Brennand and submits the case to our office, our Civil Rights Division will fully review the filing. As we do with all officer-involved shootings that result in death or serious injury, we will submit the case to a Grand Jury for their consideration. Until that happens, we can make no further comment on this matter.”
Warning: The video below contains graphic content not suitable for all viewers.
The union representing San Antonio Police Department officers will not provide legal services to Brennand because he was still a probationary officer, the organization told CNN in a statement Monday.
“New police recruits must complete a 1-year probationary period before becoming eligible for benefits provided by the union,” said Danny Diaz, president of the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association. “The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association is not representing Officer Brennand.”
Diaz said he understands why Brennand was fired but will not comment on the incident until the investigation is completed.
Attempts to reach Brennand were unsuccessful on Sunday.
Powers, the 17-year-old’s attorney, told CNN the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office notified him on Friday prosecutors would not be moving forward with charges against his client. A spokesperson for the DA’s office referred CNN to the county’s online court record system, which indicates both charges have been dismissed and the case closed.
Powers told CNN on Saturday Cantu is “literally fighting for his life every minute of the day as his body has endured a tremendous amount of trauma.”
“We need all the blessings we can receive at this time. We kindly ask for privacy beyond this update as this is a delicate moment in our lives, and we are focusing on one thing and that’s getting him home,” he added.
Teen suffered multiple gunshot wounds
Gonzales held a news conference Friday to address public concerns about the investigative process.
“Let me be clear that I believe that the large majority of members of the San Antonio police department do an excellent job at protecting our community and doing the right thing,” Gonzales said during the conference.
“We have other decisions we have to make down the road, which may include charging him with a crime,” he said.
The San Antonio Police Department said in a video statement the officer was handling an unrelated disturbance call at the McDonald’s Sunday night when he saw a car, he believed had evaded police the previous day and called for backup.
Before backup officers arrived, body camera video released by police shows the officer walk up to the driver’s side of the car, open the door, and order the driver out. The visibly startled teen, who was in the driver’s seat eating, put the car in reverse and started backing up.
Brennand then opened fire five times on the car, according to the video. As the driver shifted the vehicle to move forward, body camera video showed the officer opening fire an additional five times as the car drove away.
The SAPD said the teen was found a block away suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. A passenger in the car was uninjured, police said.
The SAPD said it is investigating the incident and will forward its findings to the Bexar County District Attorney, who said in a statement his office’s Civil Rights Division would be reviewing the police shooting and the charges against the teen.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.