Judge denies motion for change of venue in case of former SAPD officer James Brennand

Ruling issued by 437th District Court Judge Joel Perez

SAN ANTONIO – Former SAPD officer James Brennand, who is charged with aggravated assault by a public servant and deadly conduct for shooting a teen outside a McDonald’s in 2022, will be tried in Bexar County.

437th District Court Judge Joel Perez denied the defense’s motion for a change of venue during a hearing on Wednesday morning.

Brennand’s defense team filed a motion for a change of venue last October. During a March 7 hearing, the defense argued that the case has had the most media coverage in recent history. They even presented the judge with a binder with more than 140 pages of news articles about the case.

Brennand’s attorneys argued that it would be impossible to find an impartial jury and 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. They showed media clips from McManus and Gonzales during the hearing.

The state argued that the case got national attention and that potential jurors from any county could have heard about the case. They also believed that there were enough potential jurors in Bexar County to get a fair trial.

On-duty SAPD officer Brennand shot then-17-year-old Erik Cantu in a McDonald’s parking lot in October 2022, after Brennand recognized 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.

Brennand was initially originally indicted by a grand jury in December 2022 on a charge of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant. The case was reindicted on Feb. 27 without the attempted murder charge. Instead, he’s now facing a third charge — deadly conduct-firearm.

Last month, the defense filed a subpoena for conversations between the Wren Collective and the District Attorney’s Office about the case, but the state countered with a motion saying the communications were irrelevant and private.

On March 4, Perez ordered the state to turn over its communications with the Wren Collective but under a protective order so only Brennand’s defense team could see them.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

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.

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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