Attorneys seek change of venue for trial of former SAPD officer who shot teen outside McDonald’s

Attorneys argue Officer James Brennand cannot get a fair trial in Bexar County

File: James Brennand appeared in court for a June 9, 2023 hearing. (Misael Gomez, KSAT)

Attorneys for former San Antonio Police Officer James Brennand have filed a motion seeking a change of venue in his upcoming trial.

Brennand is facing multiple charges in the shooting of 17-year-old Erik Cantu outside a North Side McDonald’s in October of 2022.

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In the motion filed Thursday morning, attorneys argued that Brennand would not be able to seat an impartial jury due to the extensive media coverage the 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 is accused of shooting Erik Cantu as he sat in his car outside a McDonald’s restaurant in the 11700 block of Blanco Road on Oct. 2, 2022. Days after the incident, San Antonio Police released body cam footage of the incident. McManus told reporters in a news conference then that, “the shooting itself was unjustified -- administratively and criminally.”

Brennand was indicted by a grand jury on December 1, 2022. He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder. Gonzales told reporters then that his office would “do everything possible to see that justice is done for Erik and the rest of his family.”

In the motion, Brennand’s attorneys argued that statements made by both McManus and Gonzales to reporters declared that their client was guilty, thus tainting a potential jury pool.

Cantu was hospitalized for several weeks and spent time on life support before being released in November 2022. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest charges, but those were later dismissed. In July, Cantu and an 18-year-old Emily Proulx were arrested on theft charges. She was also in the car the night of the shooting in October 2022. She was not injured in that shooting.

According to the court, the state must respond to the motion or the judge will have to grant the change of venue request.

The next hearing is scheduled for December.

About the Authors

Sean Talbot is the Assistant News Director at KSAT. He formerly served as the Assignments Manager. He joined KSAT in 2001. He graduated from Texas State with a degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Political Science. When he’s not getting our news crews out the door, he’s at home with his wife Lomisa and their two daughters Grace and Sydney.

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.

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