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Erik Cantu Jr. sues San Antonio over 2022 police shooting by former cop James Brennand

Erik Cantu Jr. laying in his hospital bed, playing with legos, and his father Erik Cantu Sr. next to him.
Erik Cantu GoFundMe
Erik Cantu Jr. and his father Erik Cantu Sr. in the hospital

Erik Cantu Jr. and Emily Proulx filed a lawsuit against the City of San Antonio and former SAPD officer James Brennand on Friday over the October 2022 police shooting that left Cantu in the hospital for months and which led to Brennand being charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

In body camera footage SAPD released shortly after the Oct. 2, 2022, incident, Brennand is heard telling the police dispatcher that he recognizes a vehicle in a McDonald’s parking lot that he said recently fled from him during a traffic stop. He also requested backup. He then approached the vehicle, where Cantu and Proulx were sitting, pulled open the driver’s side door, and told Cantu to get out of the car without announcing himself as a police officer.

Cantu, who was eating in the driver’s seat, quickly put the car into reverse to flee. After Brennand struggled with the door he stepped back, pulled out his service weapon, and fired multiple times into the vehicle as it reversed away from him. Brennand then told the dispatcher, “shots fired, shots fired,” before shooting several more times at Cantu’s vehicle as Cantu drove away. Proulx was uninjured.

The suit accused both Brennand and SAPD of excessive force and racial profiling over the shooting and sought monetary damages.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump’s law firm, which has represented the Cantu family for the last year and a half, led the lawsuit. Texas-based Hilliard Law and McCathern PLLC also worked on the civil case.

The suit said the Bexar County district attorney informed Cantu’s family after the shooting that Brennand was looking for a Latino teen with a bowl haircut, which is why it alleged racial profiling.

Cantu and Proulx’s attorneys argued SAPD’s formal and informal policies and culture directly contributed to Cantu’s shooting, making the department complicit in Brennand’s actions.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus
Joey Palacios
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus

The suit named SAPD Chief William McManus as particularly responsible for the internal culture that led to the shooting.

“[McManus] has been at the center of the City’s failure to provide the necessary discipline, training, and policies needed to deter future misconduct and deter the City’s culture of resorting too quickly to excessive force,” the lawsuit said.

McManus fired Brennand two days after the shooting, and the lawsuit quoted him as saying, “the shooting itself was unjustified — both administratively and criminally.”

Cantu and Proulx sought monetary damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical impairment and disfigurement, mental anguish, as well as additional punitive damages.

San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia denied the claims made against the SAPD in a statement.

“The San Antonio Police Department’s policies concerning the use of force have consistently been found to be well above the legal standard,” Segovia said. “James Brennand’s actions on that day were clearly inconsistent with SAPD training and policy. The claims asserted are without merit and we will vigorously defend the City in this litigation.”

The suit also referenced several other cases of alleged SAPD misconduct as evidence of the department’s culture, including the 2022 shooting of 13-year-old AJ Hernandez, whose family is also suing the city.

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