A former San Antonio police officer who shot a teenager in a McDonald’s parking lot in October was indicted on assault and attempted murder charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
The former officer, James Brennand, was fired by the police department two days after the Oct. 2 shooting of Erik Cantu, and the police chief called his actions “indefensible.”
Brennand is charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of 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 aggravated assault counts are the most serious and carry up to life in prison if convicted.
Brennand allegedly shot Cantu, 17, after he ordered the teenager, who was eating a hamburger, out of a vehicle. Cantu put the car into reverse with the door open and backed up, according to officials and body camera video.
Police have said Brennand was struck by the door. Brennand made a sound as though he had been struck, and then opened fire into the car, and also shot as it drove away, body camera video shows.
Brennand approached Cantu’s car because he believed it had evaded him the day before when he tried to conduct a traffic stop, and he thought it may have been stolen, police have said.
Although the car’s registration plates didn’t match the vehicle, the car was not stolen, according to police. The boy’s family has said it was their car.
An email to the law firm of an attorney 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 judgement attitude,” and that they expect more information to be revealed on the incident, The Associated Press reported.
Brennand was arrested in October on two counts of aggravated assault by public servant. On Thursday, a grand jury returned its indictment against him.
Brennand had been on the force for seven months before the shooting, and was still on a standard one-year probation period after graduating from the academy, officials have said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Cantu family, said Thursday’s indictment was a significant step toward justice.
“Today’s announcement is a relief for Erik, his family, and everyone supporting them through this tragedy,” Crump said.
The Associated Press contributed.