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 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.
The aggravated assault counts are the most serious, carrying up to life in prison if he is convicted.
Brennand is accused of shooting 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 the door struck Brennand. Brennand made a sound as though he had been struck, opened fire into the car and 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 had not been stolen, police said. The boy's family has said it was their car.
The law firm of an attorney listed as representing Brennand did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment 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, 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.
Cantu had serious injuries and spent almost two months in the hospital. He was released late last month and has a long recovery ahead, his family has said.
Brennand had been on the force for seven months before the shooting and was still on a standard one-year probation period after having graduated from the academy, officials have said.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin 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.