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San Antonio officer fired after shooting at teen sitting in McDonald's parking lot eating a burger

The officer was responding to an unrelated disturbance call at the restaurant. Erik Cantu, 17, is "fighting for his life" in the hospital, his attorney said.

A San Antonio police officer still in his probationary period was fired after he shot at and injured a 17-year-old boy in the parking lot of McDonald's, the department said Wednesday.

The teenager, Erik Cantu, is hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. His attorney, Brian Powers, said Saturday that Cantu is "fighting for his life."

The officer, identified as James Brennand, responded to the fast-food eatery on Blanco Road around 10:45 p.m. Sunday for an unrelated disturbance call, according to police.

"As the officer attempted to gather information from witnesses, he noticed a vehicle that had evaded him the day before as the officer attempted a stop because the registered license plate did not match the actual vehicle," Capt. Alyssa Campos, the department’s training commander, said in a video statement.

The car, driven by Cantu, was not the subject of the disturbance call at the McDonald's, according to Campos.

An officer opens the driver’s door and orders Erik Cantu out of the vehicle in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 2, 2022.
An officer opens the driver’s door and orders Erik Cantu out of the vehicle in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 2, 2022.San Antonio Police Dept.

The officer, believing the car was stolen, called "for cover" but approached the vehicle before other officers arrived, she said. Campos said the officer "abruptly" opened the driver's door and ordered Cantu to get out.

Police body-camera footage released by the department shows Cantu sitting in the driver's seat eating a McDonald's hamburger. A 17-year-old girl is in the passenger's seat.

"Get out of the car," the officer says to Cantu, the video shows.

Cantu put the car in reverse with the driver's door still open and backed up, Campos said, adding the officer was hit by the open door.

"The officer then stepped back and opened fire on the vehicle as the driver reversed away from him," she said.

Multiple gunshots can be heard in the video as the maroon car backs away and the driver's door closes. More shots are fired as the car flees the parking lot, the video shows.

Cantu and his passenger were found about a block away. The passenger was not injured. Police have not said if the car was, in fact, stolen.

Police charged Cantu with evading detention with a vehicle and assault on a peace officer. The charges were dismissed, online court records show, and the case is closed.

Brennand had been on the force for seven months and was still on probation, a standard practice for San Antonio officers who graduated from the police academy less than a year ago.

"The former Officer’s actions are indefensible and do not align with our training, tactics and procedures," Chief William McManus said. "As such, I terminated him. I will withhold further comment as this incident is still under investigation."

All police shootings are sent to the district attorney's office for review. Brennand has not been charged with a crime.

Danny Diaz, president of the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association, said he will refrain from commenting until an investigation is completed.