The former San Antonio police officer who was charged and arrested Tuesday in the shooting of unarmed 17-year-old in McDonald’s parking lot was released early Wednesday on bail, according to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
James Brennand surrendered Tuesday night on two counts of aggravated assault by a public official. He was released at 4:03 a.m. CT after posting $100,000 bond on each count, the sheriff’s office said.
The October 2 shooting, which left a teenager Erik Cantu in critical condition, was a “failure for a single police officer,” the San Antonio police chief said Tuesday. He has since been fired.
The incident began when Brennand, a trainee officer with seven months’ experience, responded to a disturbance call unrelated to the restaurant and saw a car he said had escaped police the previous day.
Body camera footage released by police shows the officer approached the driver’s side of the car, opened the door and ordered the driver out. The visibly surprised teenager, holding a yellow wrapper of McDonald’s, put the car in reverse and began to back up.
The police officer then opened fire five times on the car, according to the video. As the driver moved the vehicle forward, body camera video showed the officer opening fire five more times as the car drove away.
The teenager, identified as Cantu, was shot multiple times and is in critical condition. He remains on life support and is unresponsive, but his oxygen levels are showing improvement, his family said on Wednesday.
“We are patient and optimistic about improving health. Please continue to keep Erik in your thoughts and prayers,” the family statement read.
Brennand did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment before his arrest. It was unclear Tuesday night if he had an attorney.
Chief William McManus said Brennand was charged with one count of aggravated assault for each person in the car – the teenager in the driver’s seat and a passenger.
The shooting was “both administratively and criminally unwarranted” and against department policies, McManus said.
“It was a failure for a single policeman. It had nothing to do with our policies. The policies did not allow it, our training did not teach it. So it was a failure for one policeman in particular,” the chief said.
The police department has been in contact with the district attorney’s office, which may need more information before taking the case to the grand jury, the chief noted.
“We worked on it for several days to get to this point where we could submit a warrant to a judge for signature, and that’s where we are right now,” McManus said.
Speaking to CNN’s Brianna Keilar earlier Tuesday, McManus said he arrived at the filming location and immediately recognized a problem.
“You can tell by looking at the vehicles, which direction the vehicle is moving when the shots are fired, and this vehicle, it was very telling to me, that this vehicle was moving away from the officer and moving parallel to the officer, so it was pretty clear to me at that point that we were going to have a problem,” McManus said.
Body camera footage also showed the officers’ actions were not in line with training, according to the chief.
“The video was awful,” McManus said. “There is no doubt in the minds of anyone watching this video that the shooting is not warranted.”
McManus said department policy prohibits officers from shooting at moving vehicles unless their life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger.
The teenager, Cantu, was initially charged with escaping custody in a vehicle and assaulting the officer, after Brennand claimed he was hit by the car door while the teenager backed away. But Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales later said in a statement that “the facts and evidence we have received thus far have led us to dismiss the charges against Erik Cantu for further investigation.” .
After the shooting, the teenager was found a block away with multiple gunshot wounds, while a passenger in the car was unharmed, police said.
The chief said the aggravated assault charges could turn into a homicide if the 17-year-old did not survive.