The night before he shot McDonalds, Erik Cantu escaped the same SAPD agent who shot him: records
The San Antonio Police Department officer who shot Erik Cantu Jr. several times in a McDonald’s parking lot had met the teenager the night before, according to SAPD records seen by KSAT is investigating.
Cantu eluded former SAPD officer James Brennand on Oct. 1 in the same maroon BMW sedan he was driving the next night when he was shot while trying to flee the officer a second time, records show.
The teenage passenger, who was with Cantu when he was shot by former SAPD officer James Brennand, told investigators after the shooting that she was hesitant to ride with Cantu on Oct. 2 because of his actions the night before, records show.
She told police that during the Oct. 1 incident, Cantu disregarded the “emergency lights and sped off” after an officer tried to pull over Cantu as they drove along a North Side street, not far from McDonalds.
“Erik may just not want to ‘deal’ with ‘the police,'” she says in the report.
Cantu is still in vital support at the University Hospital. The last update regarding his health was given during a press conference with his family on October 25.
The San Antonio Police Department has not released records of the incident. However, KSAT Investigates was able to view and confirm the records.
City officials on Friday moved to block the release of information related to the shootingincluding an incident report for the October 1 evasion case.
October 1 encounter and evasion
SAPD in-car camera records, called COBAN, show Brennan encountering a brown BMW sedan on October 1 around 8:45 pm in the area of US Hwy. 281 and Bitters Road.
Brennand pulled up behind the vehicle and then activated his emergency lights, at which point the BMW accelerated and moved to the left, in front of another vehicle before driving onto the ramp to Highway 281, the SAPD records show.
Brennand did not engage in a pursuit, but later documented that the BMW license plates were returned to another vehicle, sources familiar with the criminal investigation told KSAT.
SAPD officials have since confirmed that the license plates did not belong to the vehicle Cantu was operating but said the vehicle was not stolen.
“The female passenger’s statement corroborates that Erik was the driver and they were in the same BMW the night he eluded Officer Brennand from 281 and Bitters Road,” according to SAPD records.
The teenager, who is described in SAPD records as Cantu’s girlfriend, was eventually dropped off at her apartment by Cantu, but was “upset” by his actions.
KSAT did not name her since she has not been criminally charged.
Oct. 2 shooting in McDonald’s parking lot
The next day, Oct. 2, the teenager “expressed to Erik that he did not want to be ‘arrested’ or ‘ticked’ because of Erik’s actions,” the report states.
Finally he relented and allowed Cantu to take his from a friend’s house. The two teenagers then went to a McDonald’s on Blanco Road to eat.
Brennand, who was at the restaurant on an unrelated disturbance call, approached Cantu’s vehicle after recognizing him from the night before. He opened the driver’s door without announcing himself as an officer.
The female passenger, in her interview with investigators, said that Cantu ignored Brennand’s command to get out of the car and that the door of the vehicle “hit the officer” and that the officer “is a little dragged behind” as Cantu backed up, SAPD records show.
A short clip of body-worn camera footage released by SAPD days after the shooting shows that Brennand did not identify himself as an officer before opening the door to Cantu’s vehicle.
The passenger told police she ducked as Brennand pulled into Cantu’s vehicle.
Brennand’s criminal defense attorney did not respond to repeated questions from KSAT about his client’s actions the night of the shooting.
Brennand, who was a probationary officer with seven months of experience, was fired by the SAPD on October 4. His termination is not reviewed, as it occurred during his probationary period.
Prosecutors on October 7 dismissed the criminal charges against Cantu stemming from the shooting incident, in part, so that his family could be by his side while he recovers in a hospital.
Brennand was arrested Oct. 11 on two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant.
He is free on a $200,000 bond and is scheduled to make a court appearance on November 23.
The female passenger, who was 17 at the time of the shooting but has since turned 18, has hired an attorney and may pursue a mental anguish claim against Brennand and SAPD in civil court.
His attorney did not respond to an email seeking an interview for this story.
More details on what happened after the shooting
The female passenger told investigators that after the shooting, Cantu drove on Blanco Street toward Parliament Street before stopping the car and crawling onto the sidewalk in front of Las Palapas.
Cantu told the female passenger to call paramedics, but after she couldn’t find her cell phone, she briefly hid. She quickly exited with her hands up after police arrived on the scene and surrendered to a responding officer, SAPD records show.
Officers then put a noose on Cantu’s arm, according to records.
During a press conference last week, Cantu’s family described the severity of his injuries and said the bullet remains lodged close to his heart.
The family’s civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, repeatedly referred to Cantu’s shooting during the same press conference as an incident of racial profiling.
“And why, why do you ask? Why did he profile this young Hispanic teenager,” said Crump, who added that Brennand had referred to Cantu as a Hispanic boy with a bowl-shaped haircut. Crump and his co-counsel Paul Grinke who is also working on the Cantu case did not respond to questions seeking comment.
Cantu’s father said he came to the conclusion that his son was profiled after discussions with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.
Organizers of a candlelight vigil for Cantu also said in a letter to the community that “Brennand racially referred to Erik as a ‘Hispanic kid with a cropped haircut’ in a car that he” may or may not have been recognized as stolen”.
The organizers of the vigil, along with Cantu’s family, are also asking that Brennand be charged with two counts of attempted murder. No such charge exists in Texas.
Brennand has already been given the highest possible charge for the shooting — aggravated assault by a public servant, which is a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years in prison. Those charges could be raised to murder if the teenager succumbs to his injuries.
The vigil will be held at 7 pm Tuesday at the McDonald’s located at 11700 Blanco Road, where the shooting occurred.
A spokesman for the DA’s office declined to comment Monday, saying it is their policy not to comment publicly on the facts of a pending case.
“Chief McManus addressed Brennand’s actions the night of the shooting. As this case is now in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office, the Department has no further comment,” a SAPD spokesperson wrote in a statement to KSAT on Monday.
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