The fired San Antonio police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old as he sat in his car and ate a cheeseburger is a married ex-trooper who was praised for his firearms skills during police academy training.
James Brennand, 25, had only been on the job for seven months when he confronted Eric Cantu in the McDonald’s parking lot around 10:30 p.m.
It has now been photographed for the first time by DailyMail.com
An uninjured female passenger was sitting next to the victim. It is not installed. At the time of writing, Kantu was in a critical but stable condition.
According to his LinkedIn page, Brenand previously served in the U.S. Army as a military canine handler. He joined the service in 2016. Brennand was stationed outside of Seattle.
In that profile, Brennand describes himself as “an experienced dog handler with a demonstrated history of working in the military industry.” He also says he has “qualifications in law enforcement, operational planning, active DoD clearance, military operations and security.”
One page he liked was the San Antonio Police Department – the same force he was now fired from.
While in the Army, Brenand earned a degree in Criminal Justice and Police Science from Kaplan University’s online college.
He graduated from the San Antonio Police Academy in 2021. Brenand was commended for his gun skills, placing fourth in his class in the firearms discipline.
The former police officer has one child with his wife, Danielle Arnold, who also works as a dog handler in the US Army. It is unclear if Arnold is still active in the military. On her Facebook page, she reports that she is taking online courses at Purdue University.
The couple married on July 12, 2019. Their child was born in August 2022. Records show they bought a home together in San Antonio in July 2021.
Officer James Brennand graduated from the San Antonio Police Academy in 2021. On his LinkedIn page, Brennand reports that he is “involved in law enforcement, operational planning, active DoD clearance, military operations and security.”
According to his LinkedIn page, Brenand previously served in the U.S. Army as a military canine handler. He joined the service in 2016. Brennand was stationed outside of Seattle
Brenand was fired for shooting 17-year-old Eric Canta in a McDonald’s parking lot Sunday night
Brenand and his wife are pictured in a photoshopped image created by their realtor after Arnold was gone when the couple closed on the house in 2021
Brennan is no stranger to shooting, having placed fourth in the firearms category of his police course in 2021.
The former police officer has one child with his wife Danielle Arnold, Arnold also works as a dog handler in the US Army
Eric Cantu was hospitalized at a nearby university hospital after the shooting. He is reported to be in serious but stable condition. After the shooting, Brenand performed CPR while waiting for paramedics.
The San Antonio Police Department acted quickly Wednesday, firing Brennand. At the time of his firing, he was still on probation – meaning he has no right to appeal – and had only been on the job for seven months.
Law enforcement authorities initially charged the teenager with evading arrest and assaulting a police officer, but those were later dropped. Under Texas law, because of the charges against the teenager, his family was only allowed to be at his bedside for limited periods of time.
Before the video was released, Brennand claimed he opened fire on Kant only after the teenager hit him with his car. A new video suggests otherwise.
Brennand was called to the McDonald’s after reports of a disturbance unrelated to Cantu. When the officer arrived at the scene, he apparently mistook the teenagers’ car for the vehicle that had eluded him the previous night.
That car sped away from Brennand when he tried to stop it because its license plates didn’t match the car’s.
Brennand approached Cantu’s maroon car and called for cover, but quickly tried to take matters into his own hands and opened the car door.
Police have not confirmed whether Cantu’s car was stolen.
The video shows the moment when Brenand surprised Canta and demanded that the teenager get out of the car.
When Cantu questioned the officer’s orders, he attempted to put the vehicle in reverse and the door caught Brennand.
Brennand quickly opened fire and fired into the driver’s side as Cantu backed up, and a police officer was caught on camera yelling, “Shoots!” he has a radio.
Cantu pulled out of the parking lot and tried to drive away, but Brenand continued to fire into the back of the vehicle.
The teenagers were then found near a car a block away from the scene of the shooting.
Underneath this June 2022 Facebook post, Cantu’s grandmother wrote: “My boy, I’m so happy for you, just one thing I ask of you, drive safe and take care, love you, God is good.”
Speaking at a briefing Friday, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzalez confirmed that after viewing the video, his office instructed the police department to drop charges against Cantu.
Gonzalez also updated the public on Cantu’s condition, saying, “This young man is in critical but stable condition at the hospital. There were some issues with his parents being able to extend contact with him. I understand this is a touch and go situation.
He added: “Using my own judgment, I have decided to put this matter on hold for the time being so that his family can be by his side.”
Regarding possible charges against Officer Brenand, Gonzalez said, “This case is pending. We will have to wait for SAPD to file the whole case in our office. Then we will look into it.”
He continued: “My concern right now is the health of this young man, the ability of his parents to be there for him, and that’s why we did what we did. It will take some time for the SAPD to give us the full case and then we will make a decision.”
“I commend the San Antonio Police Department for taking action to remove this individual because obviously there was concern on their part. It is commendable that the officers of this department saw fit to fire this man,” the district attorney added.
There is a possibility that Brennand could face criminal charges.
Earlier this week, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said of Brennand, “There’s nothing I can say to defend what he did, his actions that night.”
Eric Cantu on his Facebook page in September 2022
According to Kantu’s Facebook page, he works at The Wash Tub Auto Service in San Antonio.
His former manager, Christopher Montalvo, told about it KSAT that Cantu worked at the company for three months earlier this year.
Montalvo said he last saw Canta two weeks ago when he came to the car wash. He said: “A good laugh, just normal human stuff. Nothing really serious. I never got a bad vibe from (Cantu). He was always a very good guy to me and always respected me. Every time I told him to do something, he always did it and worked hard.”
The overseer did not know that Cantu had been shot. When a KSAT reporter showed him the video, Montalvo said, “It’s hard to watch. That’s scary. I’m at a loss for words, to be honest. (Cantu) looks scared. He looks horrified. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He was just eating in the car. It’s there, I personally didn’t like it.”
Posts on Kantu’s Facebook page show a strong interest in cars, with several photos showing him in front of a Dodge Charger, comments on which indicate he just purchased it in May.
Underneath the picture, his grandmother wrote: “My boy I’m so happy for you, just one thing I ask of you, drive safe and take care, love you so much, God is good.”
He replied: “I appreciate it Liz. You have always been like a mother to me. You always treated me like I was your son. Can’t wait to show it to you!’
In February, he posted a photo of himself driving a Ford Bronco. While in March he posted a video showing him on the passenger side of a Ferrari.
In the opening section of his page, Kantu wrote: “Hope in the LORD with all your heart; and do not rely on your own understanding. KJV Proverbs 3:5”.
When Cantu backed up, the car door reportedly hit Brennand, and the officer pulled out a gun and immediately began shooting at the pair of teenagers
Brendan shoots the driver’s side window several times and yells “Shoots” into the radio as Cantu tries to drive away
Even as Cantu drives away, Brenand continues to shoot at the vehicle
The police report states that Brenand administered CPR to Kant when he caught up with him, and the female passenger in the car was not injured.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzalez said the investigation could take up to a year and “prosecutors will also review all evidence related to the allegations against Eric Cantu as we receive it.”