A former San Antonio police officer who shot and killed a teenager in a McDonald’s parking lot in October has been charged with assault and attempted murder, prosecutors said Thursday.
Former officer James Brennand was fired by police two days after the October 2 shooting of Erik Cantu, and the police chief called his actions “unjustifiable”.
Brennand is charged with two counts of aggravated assault by an officer and one attempted murder, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.
“No one is above the law. That includes members of law enforcement when they abuse their authority,” Gonzales said at a news conference.
Of the charges, the charges of aggravated assault are the most serious and carry life imprisonment if convicted.
Brennand is said to have shot and killed 17-year-old Cantu after ordering the teenager out of a vehicle while he was eating a hamburger. According to officials and body camera videos, Cantu put the door in reverse with the door open and backed up.
Police said Brennand was hit by the door. Brennand made a sound as if he had been hit and then opened fire on the car, also firing as it drove away, body camera video shows showed.
Brennand approached Cantu’s car because he believed it had evaded him the day before when he was attempting to conduct a traffic stop and he thought it had been stolen, police said.
Although the car’s license plates did not match the vehicle, police said the car was not stolen. The boy’s family said it was their car.
An email to the law firm of an attorney listed as representing Brennand was not immediately answered Thursday night.
One of Brennand’s attorneys, Nico LaHood, said Thursday that there was an initial “attack on a verdict” and that they expect more information about the incident to be released, The Associated Press reported.
Brennand was arrested on two counts of aggravated assault by an officer in October. On Thursday, a grand jury returned its indictment against him.
Cantu was seriously injured and spent nearly two months in the hospital. He was released late last month and has a long recovery ahead of him, his family said.
Brennand had been on duty for seven months prior to the shooting and was still on a standard one-year probationary period after graduating from the academy, officials said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Cantu family, said Thursday’s indictment was a significant step toward justice.
“Today’s announcement is a relief to Erik, his family and everyone supporting them through this tragedy,” Crump said.
The Associated Press contributed.