Ex-Texas cop James Brennand indicted in shooting of Erik Cantu – USA TODAY

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The former San Antonio police officer accused of shooting and critically injuring a teenager in a fast food parking lot in October was indicted by grand jury on Thursday.

James Brennand, who authorities say shot 17-year-old Erik Cantu while he was eating a hamburger in his car on Oct. 2, was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder, the Bexar County District Attorney’s office said in a statement.

“The harm that results from acts like those James Brennand committed against young Mr. Cantu ripples throughout the community. We know that most officers in this city care deeply about this community, but we cannot have a safe city if the community does not have trust in the criminal justice system.” District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.

Cantu, who was unarmed, was hospitalized in critical condition and on life support, his family’s attorney Brian Powers previously said. He was released after more than eight weeks in the hospital, attorney Ben Crump said.

While responding to an unrelated call, Brennand approached Cantu’s parked car in a McDonald’s parking lot on suspicion that it was the same vehicle he said evaded him at a prior traffic stop and that he said he thought was stolen. Police later determined it was not stolen, though the license plate was registered to a different vehicle.

Brennand opened Cantu’s driver-side door without knocking or otherwise announcing himself, and ordered the teen to exit, body camera footage showed. Cantu replied, with food in his mouth, “What?” Cantu then put the car in reverse and backed up.

The door of the car, still open, hit Brennand as it passed. The ex-officer fired shots into the car as Cantu exited the lot and drove away, footage showed.

A passenger in the car with Cantu was not injured, police said. Brennand’s second count of aggravated assault was for firing in the passenger’s direction, according to the district attorney’s office. 

“Today’s announcement is a relief for Erik, his family, and everyone supporting them through this tragedy. The grand jury’s decision to indict on an attempted murder charge and two counts of aggravated assault is a significant step toward justice –– but there is still a long road ahead. We will continue to fight for accountability and transparency through the legal process,” Crump, a renowned civil rights attorney, said in a statement on behalf of the Cantu family. 

“Erik and his family are grateful for the outpouring of support they have received, not only in Erik’s fight for survival, but also in our fight for full justice. Today, we are one step closer,” Crump said.

More: Teen shot by ex-cop while eating a hamburger was not driving a stolen car, police say

Brennand, a rookie officer, was fired in the days following the shooting. After his arrest, he was released on a $200,000 bail. Police Chief William McManus said Brennand had violated policy by firing into a moving vehicle in a non-life-threatening situation.

If convicted, Brennand faces between five years and life in prison for each count of aggravated assault by a public servant, a first-degree felony, and between two years and 20 years for attempted murder, a second-degree felony, the DA’s office said.

An attorney representing Brennand, Nico LaHood, told USA TODAY the former officer was “concerned” given the indictment, but “trusts in the system and due process.”

“Until this day, James Brennand has been tried in the court of public opinion without the benefit of his side of the story being known. Already we have seen that the initial reports by a rush-to-judgment attitude has been contradicted by subsequent reporting that has examined the facts,” LaHood said, referencing reporting by local ABC affiliate KSAT 12.

KSAT reported Cantu was the driver that had evaded Brennand’s attempted traffic stop the night before the shooting, citing police reports that included an interview with the passenger in the car, another teenager.

Brennand is the second San Antonio officer charged for the use of deadly force this year; Oscar Cruz Jr. was also indicted for deadly conduct with a firearm after he shot at juveniles suspected of trying to open car doors and is awaiting trial, court records show. 

Contributing: The Associated Press