Passenger in Erik Cantu Jr.’s vehicle on night of McDonald’s shooting hires attorney Ben Crump

Emily Proulx was also in the car when Cantu Jr. was shot by former SAPD officer

In this image taken from Oct. 2, 2022 police body camera video and released by San Antonio Police Department, San Antonio Police officer James Brennand shoots Erik Cantu, who was holding a hamburger in a fast food restaurant parking lot, as Cantu drives away in San Antonio, Texas. Brennand opened fire several times wounding the unarmed teenager as he drove away. Brennand was fired after the shooting, police training commander Alyssa Campos said in a video statement released Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (San Antonio Police Department via AP) (Uncredited)

SAN ANTONIO – The teenage passenger who was in the car when a San Antonio police officer shot 17-year-old Erik Cantu Jr. has retained famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

Emily Proulx, who turned 18 shortly after the shooting, hired Crump who is also representing Cantu Jr.’s family.

Co-counsels Bob Hillard and Paul Grinke are also representing Proulx and Cantu Jr.

It’s a precursor to a civil lawsuit that’s expected to be filed in the case.

“Emily, while physically unharmed, has suffered the extreme mental trauma of being at her boyfriend’s side when the car they were in was showered with bullets by former officer James Brennand,” Crump said.

Proulx and Cantu Jr. were sitting in a car in a McDonald’s parking lot on Oct. 2 when probationary officer James Brennand opened the door unannounced and demanded Cantu Jr. get out of the car.

Cantu Jr. then put the vehicle in reverse and the open car door allegedly hit Brennand, who then fired shots into the car with Cantu Jr. and Proulx still inside. Brennand fired additional shots into the back of the vehicle as Cantu Jr. pulled out of the parking lot.

“This young couple was simply trying to enjoy a meal in their car when the unthinkable happened. Emily remains at Erik’s side, supporting him through his recovery, all while dealing with the ongoing anguish of being a teenager that lived through an active shooting by a police officer,” Crump said.

Proulx previously told investigators that she was hesitant to ride with Cantu Jr. because he had evaded Brennand the night before the shooting in the same maroon BMW sedan he was driving on Oct. 2.

She told police that during the Oct. 1 incident, Cantu Jr. disregarded the “emergency lights and ‘sped off’” after an officer attempted to pull over Cantu Jr. while they drove along a North Side highway, not far from the McDonalds.

Brennand was indicted earlier this week by a Bexar County grand jury on two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder, according to District Attorney Joe Gonzales.

The first count of aggravated assault is for shooting Cantu Jr. and the second count is for shooting at or in the direction of Proulx, Gonzales said.

Crump is a well-known attorney who specializes in wrongful death lawsuits and has been hired to work on high-profile cases including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Cantu Jr. was released from the hospital just before Thanksgiving after sustaining life-threatening injuries that previously required him to be on life support.

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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.