SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s Note: The video released by SAPD is graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.
The San Antonio Police Department on Wednesday fired a police officer who shot a teenager outside a McDonald’s restaurant less than a week ago.
Brennand had been placed under administrative duty following the shooting on Sunday outside the fast food restaurant in the 11700 block of Blanco Road near West Avenue. According to SAPD, Brennand was fired for violating departmental tactics and procedures.
James Brennand was a probationary police officer who served on the force for seven months, SAPD said. Officers are on probation for one year after graduating from the police academy.
According to an SAPD report, Brennand responded to a call for a disturbance at 10:45 p.m. and attempted to gather information from witnesses when he noticed a vehicle that had evaded him the day before as he attempted a traffic stop because the registered license plate didn’t match the vehicle. The report said the prior incident wasn’t related to the disturbance call at the restaurant.
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.
Erik Cantu, 17, put the vehicle in reverse with the door still open and started driving, the report said. The door hit Brennand, and that’s when he opened fire.
Cantu then shifted to drive forward and tried to drive away, and Brennand continued to fire into the back of the car.
Cantu and a 17-year-old female passenger were located outside the vehicle a block away at Parliament and Blanco.
Christopher Montalvo, a supervisor at The Wash Tub, told KSAT he worked with Cantu for about three months earlier this year. He said he was able to catch up with Cantu just two weeks ago when he came in for a car wash.
“Good laughs, just normal human being stuff. Nothing really serious. I never got a bad vibe from (Cantu),” Montalvo said. “He was always a really good guy to me, and he always respected me. Every time I told him to do something, he always did it, and he worked hard.”
Montalvo was not aware of the shooting. He was then shown the body cam video of the incident.
“That’s hard to watch. That’s scary. I’m speechless, honestly,” Montalvo said after watching the video. “(Cantu) looks scared. He looks terrified. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He was just in his car eating. That right there, that personally didn’t look right to me.”
Cantu suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to University Hospital. The report stated that Brennand performed CPR on Cantu before emergency medical service technicians arrived. Cantu’s female passenger was not injured.
Cantu was charged by proxy with evading detention in a vehicle and assault on an officer.
As Cantu continues his fight in the hospital, Montalvo has a message for him.
“I’m sorry that this happened to you, man. And I really hope he gets better. I hope he pulls through,” Montalvo said.
The investigation into the shooting could take as long as a year.
“The Bexar County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division will fully review the evidence submitted by the San Antonio Police Department into the shooting of Erik Cantu by a now former police officer once the SAPD investigation is complete. The DA’s Office will also review all evidence related to the charges against Erik Cantu once we have received it. The DA’s Office can make no comment on whether charges may be pursued against either individual until all evidence has been reviewed,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in a statement.