Sources: Ex-SAPD officer James Brennand subdues suspect in vehicle burglary case

Brennand seeking change of venue in aggravated assault by a public servant case

James Brennand (left) subdued suspect Jacob Ramos (right) during a vehicle burglary incident late last month. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A fired San Antonio police officer awaiting trial for the 2022 shooting of a teenager subdued a suspect accused of breaking into a vehicle outside of a West Side tool shop late last month, multiple sources told KSAT Investigates.

James Brennand and a second man held down the suspect, identified by San Antonio police as Jacob Ramos, after Ramos burglarized a truck in the parking lot of Harbor Freight in the 7500 block of NW Loop 410 Jan. 27, police records show.

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Ramos is accused of damaging the ignition of the truck before the victim confronted him inside the vehicle and fired a shot at him.

The suspect eventually ran into the store where Brennand and another man held him down “in order to keep anybody from getting hurt and to keep the situation from escalating,” the report states.

The victim identified himself as a volunteer for homeland security and school district police departments who has a license to carry a firearm. He handcuffed the suspect and then called police, the report states.

SAPD officials redacted Brennand’s name from the report released to KSAT. However, multiple sources identified the fired SAPD officer as one of the bystanders who subdued Ramos.

SAPD investigators were working to subpoena additional evidence from the scene and could file a charge against the victim for deadly conduct - firearm since Ramos did not appear to be armed with a weapon when the shot was fired at him, the report states.

SAPD officials on Tuesday did not respond to an email from KSAT seeking an update on the status of that case.

Ramos was booked into jail on a misdemeanor charge of burglary of vehicles on Jan. 27. He was released from jail Monday after pleading no contest in the case, court records show.

The arrest of Ramos came less than a month after he was arrested in an unrelated misdemeanor theft case. He pleaded no contest in that case Monday as well, court records show.

Brennand seeking Wren Collective communications, change of venue for trial

Brennand is accused of shooting teenager Erik Cantu as Cantu sat in his car outside a McDonald’s restaurant in the 11700 block of Blanco Road in October 2022.

Brennand, who was on duty, identified Cantu’s vehicle from an evading arrest case the previous night.

The SAPD probationary officer, who was fired days after the shooting, was indicted by a grand jury in December 2022. He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder.

Attorneys for Brennand asked for a change of venue for his trial last fall. They argued that Brennand would not be able to seat an impartial jury due to the extensive media coverage the shooting incident received.

They also argued that remarks made by both San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales about the incident would sway any potential jurors.

Brennand’s attorneys last week subpoenaed all communications pertaining to the shooting between Gonzales, his staff and the Wren Collective, an Austin-based criminal justice reform group.

The subpoena came days after KSAT revealed Gonzales’ staff had extensive discussions about the case with Jessica Brand, founder of the Wren Collective.

The DA’s office rejected charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest against Cantu on October 7, 2022.

Gonzales held a 3:30 p.m. press conference outside the Bexar County Justice Center to make the formal announcement.

Records obtained by KSAT show that on that same day, just before 9 a.m., Brand texted First Assistant District Attorney Christian Henricksen recommending that Gonzales hold a press conference with Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, whose agency was not associated with the case, announcing the dropping of charges and to state that the incident had harmed public trust.

Henricksen replied that he was trying to get Gonzales on the phone and would be advising him to dismiss the charges “immediately.”

Henricksen later texted Brand that he was rejecting the cases against Cantu and that Gonzales wanted to move forward with a press conference.

Brand replied that a member of her team was working on talking points for the press event.

The family of Cantu, who was critically injured in the shooting but survived, was not permitted to see him in the hospital while he faced criminal charges.

In a hearing last week, a judge set a date of March 7 for the defense and state to argue if conversations between the DA’s office and the Wren Collective are relevant to Brennand’s case.

The judge has still not ruled on Brennand’s motion for a change of venue.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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