SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County grand jury has indicted a former San Antonio police officer accused of shooting a teenager in a McDonald’s parking lot in early October, District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.
The three-count indictment charges James Brennand, 28, with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder, according to Gonzales. The first count of aggravated assault is for shooting Erik Cantu and the second count is for shooting at or in the direction of another victim in Cantu’s vehicle, Gonzales said.
The charge is a first-degree felony with a punishment between five years and life in prison.
According to Gonzales, the attempted murder count is for Brennand allegedly trying to cause Cantu’s death. It’s a second-degree felony with a punishment between two years and 20 years in prison.
“We’re going to do everything possible to see that justice is done for Erik and the rest of his family,” Gonzales said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Brennand was arrested in October, less than two weeks after shooting 17-year-old Erik Cantu multiple times and firing toward Cantu’s teenage passenger while they were inside a vehicle in a North Side McDonald’s parking lot.
The passenger was uninjured. Cantu, however, spent weeks on life support after suffering injuries to his stomach, diaphragm, lungs, liver, bicep and forearm in the Oct. 2 shooting.
Cantu was able to be taken off of life support earlier this month and was released from the hospital last week.
“I want to express my sincere regret and sympathy to Erik. I’m happy to hear that he is recovering, I’m happy to hear that he’s out of the hospital,” Gonzales said. “In the meantime, I commit to him and his family and this entire community that we are going to everything to bring justice to Erik Cantu.”
Brennand, an SAPD probationary officer who had been on the force about seven months, was fired days after the shooting for violating departmental tactics and procedures.
Body-worn camera footage released by SAPD showed Brennand approach Cantu’s car after believing it had evaded him the night before as he attempted to pull it over.
You can watch the video released by SAPD of the shooting below. WARNING: Video is graphic and viewer discretion is advised.
Brennand suspected the car was stolen and called for cover. But before other officers arrived, Brennand walked up to the car and opened the door, where two teens were inside eating food.
Cantu put the vehicle in reverse with the door still open and started driving, the footage showed.
The door hit Brennand, and that’s when he opened fire, according to SAPD reports.
Cantu then shifted to drive forward and tried to drive away, and Brennand continued to fire into the back of the car.
Cantu and his passenger were located outside the vehicle a block away at Parliament and Blanco.
Brennand was arrested Oct. 11 and was notified Thursday of the grand jury indictment, his attorney said.
A spokeswoman for Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
A shift in this case was good news for Ananda Tomas, executive director of Act4SA, a group working to hold police accountable.
“Both the DAs office, as well as the police chief, really being gungho and acting so fiercely on a case of police brutality -- and I’m hoping this is showing a shift,” she said.
Hear more about what Tomas had to say in the KSAT Nightbeat coverage below: