A San Antonio police officer who shot and wounded a 17-year-old while sitting in a car eating a hamburger has been fired, authorities said.
Officer James Brennand was fired after shooting Erik Cantu on Oct. 2 in a McDonald’s parking lot, police training commander Alyssa Campos said in a video statement released Wednesday.
Cantu’s attorney, Brian Powers, said the teenager was “fighting for his life” after being hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds, NBC reported Friday.
Brennand had been responding to an unrelated disturbance at the fast food restaurant when he saw Cantu inside a car, Campos said. In a body camera video released by authorities, Brennand is heard saying the car “ran away” from him “the other day.”
“As the officer was trying to gather information from witnesses, he noticed a vehicle that had passed him the day before while the officer was trying to pull over because the license plate number did not match the actual vehicle,” Campos said in a video statement.
Brennand thought the car Cantu was in may have been a stolen vehicle, Campos said, although information on the vehicle’s ownership was not immediately available.
“The officer jerked open the driver’s door and ordered the driver out of the car” before the arrival of the security officers Brennand had requested, Campos said.
The prosecutor will not charge the teenager
A Texas prosecutor said in a statement Friday that he has not seen enough evidence to file charges against the teenager.
“While Sunday’s shooting of an unarmed teenager by a San Antonio police officer remains under investigation, the facts and evidence we have received to date have led us to dismiss the charges against Erik Cantu for further investigation,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales. .
Cantu was initially charged with eluding police and aggravated assault.
Brennand, who had been on the force for less than a year, violated the department’s tactics, training and procedures after approaching the car, Campos said.
Some civil servants and civil rights advocates took to social media, saying the officer confronted the teenager without giving a reason.
“James Brennand opened the teenager’s car door, asked him to get out of his vehicle for no reason, and shot him!” Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said on Twitter.
What does body cam video show?
Vivid body camera footage released by authorities chronicles the sudden shooting as the teenager sat in a car. Officer Brennand walks up to a parked car around 10:45 p.m. and, without knocking or announcing his presence, opens the driver’s side door, the video shows.
After Brennand tells Cantu to “get out of the car,” the teenager replies, “What?” with his mouth full of food, with a sandwich wrapped in yellow paper in his lap, video footage shows.
The video then shows Cantu putting the sedan in reverse and starting to turn the wheel. Brennand then tries to get inside the car and grab Cantu, who continues to back out of the parking spot, footage shows.
The car door remained open as Cantu began backing up, the video shows, hitting Brennand.
Brennand then fired a shot inside the car while the door was still open, and fired nine more times after Cantu closed the door. Brennand ran after the car across the McDonald’s parking lot as it drove away.
Cantú, who was hit by a shot, stopped nearby where police found him and a 17-year-old female passenger, who was not injured.
Will the agent face charges?
“There is nothing I can say in defense of this officer’s actions that night,” Police Chief William McManus told WOAI-TV. “I think what happened, initially, there was some contact, but that didn’t justify the shooting.”
Gonzales, the district attorney, said no decision had been made on whether to file charges against Brennand, pending the outcome of a police investigation into the shooting.
“As we do with all officer-involved shootings that result in death or serious injury, we will be submitting the case to a Grand Jury for consideration. Until that happens, we cannot comment further on this matter,” Gonzales said.
Police and an attorney for Cantu did not immediately return phone calls for comment Friday.
Contributor: Associated Press.