SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A former San Antonio police officer was charged Tuesday with two counts of aggravated assault by a law enforcement officer for shooting and seriously injuring a teenage boy who was eating a hamburger in his car in a McDonald’s parking lot. The teen had started to walk away when the officer opened fire.
James Brennand, 25, was charged in the Oct. 2 shooting of 17-year-old Erik Cantu, according to a police statement. He turned himself in to police Tuesday night and remained in custody, Police Chief William McManus said.
Cantu is still unconscious and on life support, his family said Tuesday.
“There is no improvement in his condition,” the family said in a statement released by their attorney, Brian Powers. “The last two days have been difficult and we expect more difficulties in the future, but we remain hopeful.”
Brennand, a rookie officer, reported that the vehicle Cantu was sitting in had evaded him the night before during an attempted traffic stop. Brennand said he suspected the vehicle had been stolen.
body-worn camera images Released by the police, Brennand opens the car door and tells Cantu to get out. The car drives backwards with the door open, and the officer fires multiple shots at the vehicle. He continues to fire as the car drives away.
Investigators quickly determined that the use of deadly force was not justified, and Brennand was fired. Charges against Cantu of aggravated assault and evading arrest were dropped.
A police spokesman did not immediately respond to a query about whether the vehicle was actually stolen.
Brennand is charged with two counts of assault because there was a passenger in the car. The passenger was uninjured.
At a news conference Tuesday night, the police chief defended the department’s training, saying the faults were with the individual officer.
In an appearance on CNN Earlier Tuesday, McManus said he expected aggravated assault and murder charges to be filed should Cantu die.
McManus called the body camera video of Brennand “horrible.”
“There is no doubt in the mind of anyone who watches that video that the shooting is not justified,” McManus said.
Police officials and the Bexar County district attorney’s office did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press. Brennand does not have a posted phone number and could not be reached for comment.
Cantu’s condition, as recounted in his family’s statement, stands in stark contrast to what police officials said after the shooting: that Cantu was hospitalized in stable condition.
“We would like to correct any misrepresentation that Erik is in ‘stable condition’ or that he is ‘going to be fine.’ That is not true. Every breath is a struggle for Erik. We ask for everyone’s continued prayers for our son,” the family said.