Erik Cantu still has bullet lodged near his heart, family says

Teen shot by San Antonio police officer wakes up with hallucinations

Teen shot by San Antonio police officer wakes up with hallucinations

SAN ANTONIO – The family of a San Antonio teenager shot by a San Antonio police officer earlier this month says he is still on life support.

Erik Cantu Jr.’s family shared updates about his condition at a press conference Tuesday morning, the first time they have spoken publicly about the shooting.

Cantu’s parents, Eric Cantu Sr., 44 and Victoria Casarez, 40, spoke to the public alongside their extended family members and a team of attorneys, which includes high-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

“It’s very touch and go,” said Cantu Sr. “He is cut from the center of his chest down to his stomach, has staples, tubes in his mouth, tubes in his sides.”

He also said his son also has a tracheotomy and developed pneumonia in the hospital, which caused a fever.

Cantu Jr. is “on a cocktail of different sedatives just to keep him alive... including fentanyl, which counter-attacks his breathing,” Cantu Sr. said. “It’s a rat race of the fentanyl, stopping him from breathing and the machine keeping him going.”

Crump said Cantu goes into cardiac arrest every time they try to ween him off narcotics and that the cycle has been going on for three weeks.

Casarez added that her son still has a bullet lodged near his heart that would do more harm than good to remove it.

She also said Cantu Jr. wakes up with flashbacks.

“It’s hallucinations and he’s raising his hands and trying to press the pedals to the car and pushing gun symbols. These are the things we have to see daily,” Cantu Sr. said.

“The state that he’s woken up is in the incident, so it’s very hard for him,” said Casarez. “He wants us to lock the doors for him. He can’t reach the pedals, he says, to get out, to go. He constantly says I’m sorry and raises his hands up and it’s just the saddest thing to watch.”

Cantu Sr. said his son has a grimace of pain on his face and that trying to talk through the trach tube makes his son’s voice sound like a whisper.

The 17-year-old sustained injuries to his stomach, diaphragm, lungs, liver, bicep and forearm after he was shot by San Antonio police officer James Brennand on the night of Oct. 2 in a McDonald’s parking lot.

According to Cantu Sr., additional video which has not yet been made public shows Cantu Jr. exclaiming, “I’ve been shot.” Cantu Sr. said the video shows Brennand reply, “yes you have, because I shot you.”

“No humanity behind his voice,” said Cantu Sr. “He dropped him off at the University Hospital and told his sergeant ‘oh he’ll be fine, he’s going to be ok,’ not knowing what he did to him.”

Casarez said one of the most painful things she saw in the additional video is her son calling out saying, “I want my mom,” after he was shot.

Brennand, who has been fired from the San Antonio Police Department, is currently charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant, a first-degree felony. It’s the highest possible charge he can be given for the shooting. He turned himself in at the Bexar County Jail and was released a day later on a $200,00 bond. A hearing is set for Nov. 23.

“It’s just been a horrific roller coaster,” Casarez said.

The family and attorneys were united in their message and believe that Cantu Jr. was racially profiled by Brennand.

Crump said that based on evidence the family has been able to view that Brennand described Cantu Jr. as a Hispanic kid with a “bowl-shaped haircut.”

Full video of the press conference can be watched below:

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.