Judge orders DA’s office to turn over communications with Wren Collective to defense in James Brennand case

Documents will be under a protective order

SAN ANTONIO – In a hearing on Monday morning, a judge ordered the state to turn over its communications with the Wren Collective about the high-profile 2022 shooting of a teenager by then-SAPD Officer James Brennand.

His defense team filed a subpoena for the documents last month, but the state filed a motion saying the communications were irrelevant and private.

437th District Court Judge Joel Perez ruled Monday that the communications must be turned over to the defense, but they will be under a protective order so that only Brennand’s defense team can see them.

KSAT revealed Gonzales’ staff had extensive discussions about the case with Jessica Brand, founder of the Austin-based criminal justice reform group the Wren Collective.

On-duty SAPD officer Brennand shot then-17-year-old Erik Cantu in a McDonald’s parking lot in October 2022, after identifying Cantu’s vehicle from an evading arrest case the previous night.

Three days after the shooting, SAPD released portions of body-worn camera footage that showed Brennand firing multiple rounds into the vehicle where Cantu and his then-17-year-old female friend Emily Proulx were eating, as Cantu attempted to back up and drive away.

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

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

Brennand was indicted in the case in December 2022.

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 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.

Brennand’s defense team has requested a change of venue for the trial in a motion filed in October.

Judge Perez is expected to rule on that during a hearing set for Thursday.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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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