Things That Matter

San Antonio Police Officer Fired After Shooting a Teenager While He Was Eating a Burger in His Car — The 17-Year-Old Is in Critical Condition

A 17-year-old boy from San Antonio named Erik Cantu is in critical condition after being shot multiple times by a police officer that has been identified as James Brennand. The shooting happened while Cantu was eating a burger in his car at a McDonald’s parking lot.

The teen was parked with a friend outside the restaurant when Brennand, who was responding to an unrelated disturbance call, opened Cantu’s car door unprompted and demanded he exit the vehicle. Unsure of who the officer was or what he was trying to do, Cantu backed away in his car, subsequently hitting the officer in the leg with his door, reports La Sexta.

As seen on a video released by San Antonio’s police Department (viewer discretion is advised as the clip contains potentially disturbing images), Brennand then unholstered his weapon and fired multiple rounds into Cantu’s car as the teenager fled the scene, hitting Cantu multiple times. He initially approached the vehicle because, according to a statement from the SAPD’s training commander Captain Alyssa Campos, “he noticed a vehicle that had evaded him the day before as the officer attempted a stop because the registered license plate did not match the actual vehicle,” reports NBC News.

Chief William McManus later confirmed that the officer had been fired as a result of the shooting, and said, “The former Officer’s actions are indefensible and do not align with our training, tactics, and procedures,” adding, “As such, I terminated him. I will withhold further comment as this incident is still under investigation.”

Cantu was initially charged with evading arrest and assault on a police officer, but those charges have since been dropped by Bexar County Prosecutor Joe Gonzales pending further investigation.

As for Cantu’s attorney, Brian Powers, he has had to clarify the state of Cantu’s condition and dispel any false rumors about the teenager’s recovery. “At this time, there is no improvement in his condition. He is still unconscious and is on life support,” he said. “The last two days have been difficult and we expect more difficulty ahead, but we remain hopeful.

Powers also cautioned against believing any report that said Cantu was expected to fully recover. “Every breath is a struggle for Erik,” said a statement from Powers and Cantu’s family. “We ask for everyone’s continued prayers for our son.”

A profile of his best friend, George Ramos, published by the San Antonio Express-News characterizes Cantu as a good-natured and intelligent young man who was beginning to find his way in life. Ramos, who met Cantu when he was just nine or ten years old, said that the teenager had recently discovered a relationship with God “over these past couple of months,” adding, “As if he knew something was going to happen to him.”

Cantu had just gotten his GED in the Fall of 2021 and recently moved back to San Antonio to live with his dad. “Erik and our family would like to thank all of our family, friends, the great city of San Antonio, and everyone around the world that has sent their heartfelt prayers and blessings,” the family said in their statement.

Ramos plans to speak on Cantu’s behalf at a protest organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation as well as a local organization called ACT 4 SA, which has been advocating for transparency and accountability in the realm of public safety. The PSL and ACT 4 SA have stated their intentions to demand that Brennand “be immediately arrested and criminally charged.”

As CNN reports, the police department announced Brennan turned himself in and is now facing two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant.

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