San Antonio, TX – A rookie San Antonio police officer has been fired after shooting a 17-year-old suspect who allegedly hit him with a car door while attempting to flee from him (video below).
The teen, Erik Cantu, remained hospitalized in critical condition as of Sunday, CNN reported.
The incident began at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 2, when the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) received a report of a disturbance outside a McDonald’s restaurant located in the 11700-block of Blanco Road, according to KSAT.
According to a police report, SAPD Officer James Brennand responded to the scene and was gathering information about the disturbance from witnesses when he spotted a vehicle that he believed had fled from him during an attempted traffic stop one day earlier.
Police said that matter was not connected to the disturbance outside the restaurant that Officer Brennand had responded to investigate, KSAT reported.
The rookie cop had attempted to stop the vehicle the day prior after noticing that the license plate didn’t match the car, according to the report.
He said he believed the car had been stolen, so he immediately called for backup when he spotted the vehicle again during the unrelated disturbance investigation, KSAT reported.
Instead of waiting for additional units to arrive, Officer Brennand approached the suspect vehicle and pulled the driver’s door open, bodycam footage showed.
Cantu and his 17-year-old female passenger were sitting inside, eating their food.
“Get out of the car,” Officer Brennand said, just before Cantu set his food down and put the car into reverse, the video showed.
As the officer reached into the vehicle to grab ahold of the teen, Cantu began accelerating backwards, striking Officer Brennand with the open driver’s door, KSAT reported.
That’s when the officer opened fire, according to police.
Cantu was able to shift the car into drive and started driving away, at which point Officer Brennand fired more rounds at the fleeing vehicle, bodycam footage showed.
The officer fired approximately 10 rounds altogether, the video showed.
Police located the teens inside the car near Blanco and Parliament, approximately one block away from where the officer-involved shooting occurred, KSAT reported.
Cantu had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Police said officer Brennand performed CPR on the teen before emergency medical personnel rushed him to University Hospital, KSAT reported.
The 17-year-old female passenger was not injured during the incident.
Cantu’s attorney, Brian Powers, told CNN on Saturday that his client is “literally fighting for his life every minute of the day as his body has endured a tremendous amount of trauma.”
“We need all the blessings we can receive at this time,” Powers added. “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.”
It is unclear whether the vehicle involved in the incident was stolen.
Cantu was initially charged by proxy with assault on an officer and evading detention in a vehicle, KSAT reported.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in a statement that his office rejected those charges pending further investigation, CNN reported.
He further noted that Cantu was “unarmed” at the time of the shooting.
Officer Brennand suffered minor injuries to his legs during the incident after being hit by the car door while the teen attempted to flee, according to WOAI.
He was treated at the scene.
Officer Brennand was fired by the SAPD on Oct. 5 after an internal review of the incident, WOAI reported.
Investigators concluded the rookie officer violated the department’s “tactics, training, and procedures,” according to CNN.
“There is nothing I can say in defense of that officer’s actions that night,” SAPD Chief William McManus told WOAI, acknowledging that the officer was hit by the fleeing suspect’s car door. “I think what happened, initially, there was some contact made, but that did not justify the shooting.”
Officer Brennard had been with the department for just seven months.
Because he was on a standard one-year probationary status after graduating from the police academy, the now-former officer cannot appeal his firing, WOAI reported.
The investigation into the officer-involved shooting remained ongoing and could take as long as a year, KSAT reported.
“The Bexar County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division will fully review the evidence submitted by the San Antonio Police Department into the shooting of Erik Cantu by a now former police officer once the SAPD investigation is complete,” Gonzales said.
“The DA’s Office will also review all evidence related to the charges against Erik Cantu once we have received it,” the district attorney added. “The DA’s Office can make no comment on whether charges may be pursued against either individual until all evidence has been reviewed.”
The case will be presented to a grand jury, CNN reported.
“As we do with all officer-involved shootings that result in death or serious injury, we will submit the case to a Grand Jury for their consideration,” Gonzales confirmed.
The district attorney further noted he believes “the large majority of members of the San Antonio police department do an excellent job at protecting our community and doing the right thing,” CNN reported.
Former Officer Brennand and the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment, according to the news outlet.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content: