On the night of Oct. 2, 2022, a San Antonio, Texas, police officer approached a car in a McDonald’s parking lot. The New York Times and KENS in San Antonio reported that the officer was James Brennand, and when he reached the car, body camera footage shows him wrenching the door open and demanding that the young man inside get out. The young man was Erik Cantu, 17. He could be seen in the footage eating fast food and regarding Brennand for a moment with a confused look on his face. But after that stunned moment, with the driver’s-side door still open, Cantu put the car in reverse and drove away from the officer. But instead of giving chase after the young man in his patrol cruiser, the then-officer opened fire with his gun, striking the car and its driver again and again and again.
Brennand had been in that McDonald’s parking lot responding to a disturbance call. He reportedly thought that the car Cantu and his female companion were eating food in was a stolen vehicle. After that night, police released video of the body cam footage, and Brennand was fired from his position as an officer. Eventually, on Oct. 11, 2022, Brennand was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one for violence against Cantu and one for violence against his companion in the car. Cantu himself was momentarily charged with evading detention, but soon after the charge was levied, it was dropped. Police did not immediately announce how many times Brennand shot at the fleeing car. But it was eventually reported that Cantu was struck repeatedly, sustaining damage to his arms, liver, diaphragm, lungs, and stomach. Despite the horrific injuries, Cantu clung to life, and as of Oct. 26, 2022, remained fighting but severely injured.
Former police officer James Brennand turned himself in on the evening of Oct. 11 once a warrant was issued. The San Antonio chief of police, William McManus, claimed that he did not expect any further charges to be levied against Brennand as long as Cantu doesn’t die from his injuries. Barring that worst case, if convicted, Brennand could be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and face up to 20 years in prison.
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