A 17-Year-Old Was Eating A McDonald's Burger In His Car When A Cop Shot Him. Now He's In Critical Condition.

The police officer in San Antonio has been fired and could face criminal charges over the shooting that left 17-year-old Erik Cantu with critical injuries.

An image from police body camera footage shows Erik Cantu looking shocked as he eats a burger in the front seat of his car after the officer opened his car door

It was late at night, and Erik Cantu was in a McDonald's parking lot, eating a burger.

The 17-year-old and a female friend the same age were sitting in a car with the engine running on the evening of Oct. 2 in San Antonio when suddenly, his driver's seat door was flung open.

"Get out of the car," a police officer said.

As shocking police body camera footage showed, Cantu quickly put the car in reverse and began trying to drive away, his open door swinging against the officer as he did so. The officer, James Brennand, then shot at Cantu — 10 times.

The entire interaction unfolded in less than eight seconds, but it was enough to send Cantu to a hospital with critical injuries and to lead police to fire Brennand.

“There is nothing I can say in defense of that officer’s actions that night,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told News 4 San Antonio. “I think what happened, initially, there was some contact made, but that did not justify the shooting.”

On Wednesday, police training commander Alyssa Campos said in a video statement that Brennand had been called to the McDonald's to attend to an unrelated disturbance when he spotted Cantu's car, which he believed had evaded him the previous day when he'd tried to make a stop because the license plate didn't match the vehicle.

"The officer thought the car may be a stolen vehicle and called for cover," Campos said.

But rather than wait for backup to arrive, Campos said, Brennand "abruptly" opened the car door and ordered Cantu to get out. When Cantu tried to drive away, Brennand shot five times through the door as it was closing.

As Cantu then drove away, Brennand told others on his police radio, "Shots fired! Shots fired!"

But Brennand then shot five more times at the car.

Erik Cantu drives away as the officer can be seen firing his gun at the car

Cantu drove for another block before exiting his car with his passenger. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds, but the teenage girl with him was not harmed.

Brian Powers, an attorney representing Cantu, sent BuzzFeed News a statement from the teen's family:

We thank you for the heartfelt thoughts on the status of Erik’s recovery. We will inform you that he’s still in critical condition and literally fighting for his life every minute of the day as his body has endured a tremendous amount of trauma. He is still on life support. We need all the blessing we can receive at this time. We kindly ask for privacy beyond this update as this is a delicate moment in our lives and we are focusing on one thing and that’s getting him home.

Brennand, a probationary officer who had only been with the Police Department for seven months, was fired for violating police tactics, training, and procedures.

"His employment was terminated after review of the incident," Campos said.

The former officer could face criminal charges once investigators are finished reviewing the incident. It was not immediately clear whether Brennand had a lawyer.

After the shooting, Cantu was initially accused by police of evading detention in a vehicle and assault on a peace officer. However, Joe Gonzales, the district attorney of Bexar County, said Friday that after viewing footage of the incident, he had dismissed the case against Cantu.

"That's not to say that charges can't or won't be brought against that individual, but for now, that is the decision we are making," Gonzales told reporters.

Gonzales also praised the San Antonio Police Department for firing Brennand, and he said the case might not end there.

"We have other decisions we have to make down the road, which may include charging him with a crime," the district attorney said.


This story has been updated with a statement from attorney Brian Powers.

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