Criminal JusticeLocal NewsSan Antonio Fires Police Officer Who Shot Unarmed Teen After Mistaking His Identity

The officer incorrectly thought the teenager was an individual who had evaded him the previous day.
October 10, 2022
A San Antonio police officer has been fired following his involvement in the shooting of a 17-year-old boy. 

The officer, James Brennand, was still in his first few months at the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD).

Officers’ first year on the force is a probationary period, and they cannot appeal if they are fired. The president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, the local police union, said they will not represent Brennand because of his probationary status. 

The shooting occurred on the night of October 2 at a McDonald’s on Blanco Road. According to SAPD Training Commander Alyssa Campos, Brennand had incorrectly assumed that the driver of a parked car was a suspect who had evaded him the previous day. 

In the body cam footage of the incident, Brennand approached 17-year-old Erik Cantu, who was eating in his vehicle, and opened the door of his car. Brennand then instructed Cantu to exit the vehicle, at which point Cantu put the car in reverse and inadvertently hit the officer with the open car door.

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Brennand then opened fire on Cantu, striking the young man. A 17-year-old female was in the passenger seat, but she was not harmed according to police. 

Cantu is in critical condition according to his family, who said in a statement, “We thank you for the heartfelt thoughts on the status of Erik’s recovery. We will inform you that he’s still in critical condition and literally fighting for his life every minute of the day as his body has endured a tremendous amount of trauma.”

Cantu was initially charged with evading detention in a vehicle and assault on a peace officer. Those charges have since been dropped by Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales.

However, Gonzales is not ruling out charges for the teen, saying, “[T]hat’s not to say that charges can’t or won’t be brought against that individual. But for now, that is a decision that we are making,”

Gonzales also made it clear that his office will investigate the actions of the former SAPD officer. “It is commendable that the [SAPD] saw fit to terminate this individual, but we have other decisions we have to make down the road, which may include charging [Brennand] with a crime.”

“There is nothing I can say in defense of that officer’s actions that night,” SAPD Chief William McManus said in a statement. “I think what happened, initially, there was some contact made, but that did not justify the shooting.”

Earlier this year, an SAPD officer fatally shot a 13-year-old who allegedly intentionally crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving into an SAPD patrol car. When the boy fled in the vehicle, the officer shot and fatally wounded him. 

Update: Former SAPD Officer James Brennand has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant, a first degree felony. First degree felonies in Texas carry a sentence of five to 99 years in prison.


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Hudson Callender

Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.