Former San Antonio officer accused of shooting dead 17-year-old in McDonald’s parking lot released on bail


The former San Antonio police officer, who was charged and arrested Tuesday in the shooting death of an unarmed 17-year-old in a McDonald’s parking lot, was released on bail early Wednesday, according to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

James Brennand turned himself in on two counts of aggravated assault by an officer Tuesday night. He was released at 4:03 a.m. CT after posting $100,000 bail for each count, the sheriff’s office said.

The Oct. 2 shooting, which left teenager Erik Cantu in critical condition, was a “failure by a single officer,” the San Antonio Police Chief said Tuesday. He has since been released.

The incident began when Brennand, a probationary officer with seven months’ experience, responded to an unrelated disturbance call at the restaurant and saw a car he believed had evaded police the day before.

Body camera footage released by police shows the officer walked to the driver’s side of the car, opened the door and ordered the driver to get out. The visibly startled teenager, holding a yellow McDonald’s sleeve, put the car in reverse and began backing up.

According to the video, the police officer then opened fire on the car five times. As the driver moved the vehicle forward, body camera video showed the officer opening fire five more times as the car drove away.

The teenager, identified as Cantu, has been shot multiple times and is in critical condition. He remains on life support and is unresponsive, but his oxygen levels are showing improvement, his family said Wednesday.

“We are patient and optimistic that better health is to come. Please continue to keep Erik in your thoughts and prayers,” the family said in a statement.

Brennand did not respond to CNN requests for comment prior to his arrest. It was not clear on Tuesday evening whether he had a lawyer.

Erik Cantu, 17, is on life support and unresponsive, his family said.

Chief William McManus said Brennand had been charged with aggravated assault for each person in the car – the teenager in the driver’s seat and a passenger.

The shooting was “both administratively and criminally unjustified” and violated department policies, McManus said.

“This was a failure for a single police officer. It had nothing to do with our politics. Politics didn’t allow it, our education didn’t teach it. So that was a failure for a certain officer,” the chief said.

The police department has been in contact with prosecutors, who may need more information before taking the case to the grand jury, the chief noted.

“We’ve been working for several days to get to this point where we can have a warrant for a judge to sign, and that’s where we are now,” McManus said.

Speaking to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, McManus said he arrived at the scene and immediately recognized a problem.

“You can see from the vehicles what direction the vehicle is moving when the shots are fired, and that vehicle, that was very revealing to me, that this vehicle is moving away from the officer and moving parallel to the officer, that’s why it was.” pretty clear to me at that point that we were going to have a problem,” McManus said.

According to the boss, the body camera footage also showed that the officers’ actions were not consistent with training.

“The video was horrifying,” McManus said. “By watching this video, there is no question for anyone that the shooting was unjustified.”

McManus said department guidelines prohibit officers from shooting moving vehicles unless their life or the life of another person is in imminent danger.

Teenager Cantu was initially charged with evading detention in a vehicle and assaulting officers after Brennand claimed he was hit by the car door as the teenager was backing up. But Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales later said in a statement that “the facts and evidence we have received to date have caused us to dismiss the charges against Erik Cantu for further investigation.”

After the shooting, the teenager was found a block away with multiple gunshot wounds while a passenger in the car was unharmed, police said.

The chief said the aggravated assault charge could result in manslaughter if the 17-year-old does not survive.

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