Fired cop posts bond after being charged in teen's shooting

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A fired San Antonio police officer has posted bond and been released after he was charged in the shooting of a teen as the youth sat in a car eating a hamburger.

James Brennand posted $200,000 in bonds after he turned himself in Tuesday night to face two counts of aggravated assault by a public official in the Oct. 2 shooting of 17-year-old Erik Cantu, who remained on life support according to his family. Jail records showed that he did not have an attorney at the time of his release.

Brennand, a 27-year-old rookie officer, reported the vehicle Cantu was sitting in had evaded him the night before during an attempted traffic stop. Brennand said he suspected the car was stolen.

In body camera footage released by police, Brennand opens the car door and tells Cantu to get out. The car drives backward with the door open, and the officer fires multiple times into the vehicle. He continues to shoot as the car drives away.

Brennand is charged with two counts of assault because a passenger was in the car. The passenger was unharmed.

Investigators quickly determined that the use of deadly force was unwarranted, and Brennand was fired. Charges against Cantu of aggravated assault and evading arrest were dropped. Registration plates did not match the vehicle that Cantu was operating, although the car itself was not stolen, said Officer Ricardo Guzman, a police department spokesman.

Cantu remained hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday.

“Erik is still on life-support and is non-responsive but his oxygen levels are showing an improvement. We are being patient and optimistic that better health is coming,” the family said in a statement issued through attorney Brian Powers. "Please continue to keep Erik in your thoughts and prayers.”

Brennand is the second San Antonio police officer to face criminal charges this year for what was found to be the unjustified use of deadly force.

In February, a Bexar County grand jury indicted former officer Oscar Cruz Jr. on a charge of deadly conduct with a firearm for firing at fleeing juveniles suspected of trying to open car doors. He is free on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to stand trial next month.

The third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Cruz chased the youth on foot in March 2020 when another juvenile threw a rock that hit him in the face. Cruz fired two shots at the fleeing youths, missing them. Cruz was suspended indefinitely and ultimately fired.