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, prosecutors said Thursday.
The former officer, James Brennand, was fired by the police department two days after the Oct. 2 shooting of Erik Cantu, with the police chief calling his actions “indefensible.”
Brennand is charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder, Joe Gonzales, Bexar County District Attorney. said.
“Nobody is above the law. That includes members of the police when they abuse their authority,” Gonzales said at a news conference.
Of the charges, the aggravated assault charges are the most serious and carry up to life in prison if convicted.
Brennand allegedly shot 17-year-old Cantu after he ordered the teenager who was eating a hamburger to get out of a vehicle. Cantu put the car in reverse with the door open and backing up, according to officials and body camera video.
Police have said that Brennand was struck by the door. Brennand made a sound as if he had been hit, then opened fire at the car and also fired as he drove away, body camera video shows.
Brennand approached Cantu’s car because he believed he had evaded it the day before when he tried to stop traffic and thought it might have been stolen, police said.
Although the car’s license plates did not match the vehicle, the car was not stolen, according to police. The boy’s family has said it was his car.
An email to the law firm from a lawyer listed as representing Brennand was not immediately returned Thursday night.
One of Brennand’s attorneys, Nico LaHood, said Thursday that there has been an initial “rush to judge” attitude and that they wait for more information to be released about the incident, The Associated Press reported.
Brennand was arrested in October on two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant. On Thursday, a grand jury returned his indictment against him.
Cantu was seriously injured and spent almost 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 the force for seven months before the shooting and was still on a standard one-year probationary period after graduating from the academy, authorities 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 all who support them during this tragedy,” Crump said.
The Associated Press contributed.