A former San Antonio police officer who shot a teenager in a McDonald’s parking lot in October has been charged with assault and attempted murder charges, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Former police officer James Brennand was fired by the police department two days after Erik Cantu was shot on October 2, and the police chief described his actions as “untenable”.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said Brennand was charged twice with aggravated assault and once with attempted murder by a public official.
“No one is above the law. This includes law enforcement officers who abuse their powers,” he said.
Among the charges, aggravated assault counts are the most serious and could go as far as life imprisonment if convicted.
Brennand allegedly shot 17-year-old Cantu after he ordered the hamburger-eater to get out of a vehicle. According to officials and body camera video, Cantu put the car in reverse while the door was open and reversing.
Police said Brennand was shot through the door. Brennand made a sound like he had been shot and then fired at the car and also shot as it drove away, body camera showing video.
Police said Brennand approached Cantu’s car because he believed the car had eluded him when he tried to stop traffic the previous day and thought it might have been stolen.
According to police, the car was not stolen even though the license plates did not match the vehicle. The boy’s parents said they had their own car.
An e-mail sent to the law firm by a lawyer identified as representing Brennand was not immediately returned Thursday night.
Nico LaHood, one of Brennand’s lawyers, said on Thursday that there was initially a “rush to court” and they are waiting for more information on the incident to be released, the Associated Press reported.
Brennand was arrested twice in October for aggravated assault by a public official. On Thursday, the grand jury returned the indictment against him.
Cantu was seriously injured and remained in the hospital for about two months. His family said he was released late last month and has a long recovery process ahead of him.
Officials said Brennand had been on the job for seven months before he was shot and was still on the standard one-year probationary period after graduating from the academy.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the Cantu family, said Thursday’s indictment was an important step towards justice.
“Today’s announcement has been a relief for Erik, his family, and everyone who has supported them in this tragedy,” Crump said.
Associated Press contributed.