Ex-Texas cop charged after shooting teen eating hamburger

Southwest

In this image taken from Oct. 2, 2022 police body camera video and released by San Antonio Police Department, Erik Cantu looks toward San Antonio Police officer James Brennand while holding a hamburger in a fast food restaurant parking lot as the officer opens the car door in San Antonio, Texas. Brennand opened fire several times wounding the unarmed teenager as he drove away. Brennand was fired after the shooting, police training commander Alyssa Campos said in a video statement released Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (San Antonio Police Department via AP)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A now-former San Antonio police officer was charged Thursday with two counts of aggravated assault by a peace officer in last week’s shooting of a teen who was eating a hamburger in his car in a McDonald’s parking lot.

James Brennand, 25, was charged in the Oct. 2 shooting of Erik Cantu, 17, according to a police statement.

Cantu’s family said in a statement Tuesday that “there is no improvement in his condition. He is still unconscious and is on life support. The last two days have been difficult, and we expect more difficulty ahead, but we remain hopeful.”

Their attorney, Brian Powers, said it’s “an incredibly difficult time for them.”

In a statement to NewsNation, Powers said: “We have no comment to the former officers arrest at this time.

“Our main priority is Erik’s recovery. Erik is still on life-support and is non-responsive but his oxygen levels are showing an improvement,” Powers said. “We are being patient and optimistic that better health is coming. Please continue to keep Erik in your thoughts and prayers.”

James Brennand

A rookie officer, Brennand reported the vehicle in which Cantu sat had evaded him the night before during an attempted traffic stop. Brennand said he suspected the vehicle had been stolen.

In body camera footage released by police, Brennand opens the car door and tells Cantu to get out. The car drives backward, door open, and the officer fires multiple times into the vehicle. He continues to shoot as the car drives away.

Investigators quickly determined that the use of deadly force was unwarranted, Brennand was swiftly fired, and charges against Cantu of aggravated assault and evading arrest were dropped.

In a CNN appearance Tuesday morning, Police Chief William McManus had said he expected Brennand to be charged with aggravated assault for the shooting and murder in the event Cantu dies.

McManus said Brennand’s body camera video of the Oct. 2 shooting was “horrific.”

“There is no question in anybody’s mind looking at that video that the shooting is not justified,” McManus said.

Police officials and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press. Brennand has no published telephone number and could not be reached for comment.

Cantu’s condition, as related in his family’s statement, is in stark contrast to that provided by police officials in the wake of the shooting that Cantu was hospitalized in stable condition.

“We’d like to correct any misrepresentations that Erik is in ‘stable condition’ or he is ‘going to be fine.’ That is not true. Every breath is a struggle for Erik. We ask for everyone’s continued prayers for our son,” according to the family statement.

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