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What we learn about James Brennand, who shot Erik Cantu

SAN ANTONIO — Years earlier than James Brennand turned a San Antonio police officer, he was a star highschool soccer participant in a small North Texas city.

“I had the concept I needed to do that eternally,” Brennand — who then glided by Robert, his center title — advised the Weatherford Democrat on his signing day in Might 2013.

On the similar time, the paper famous, Brennand expressed an curiosity in “maybe pursuing a prison justice self-discipline” for all times after soccer, an ambition he fulfilled practically 9 years later when he graduated in March from the San Antonio Police Coaching Academy.

However his profession in legislation enforcement was tragically short-lived.

On Oct. 2, seven months after becoming a member of the San Antonio Police Division, Brennand, 27, shot 17-year-old Erik Cantu exterior a McDonald’s on the North Aspect. Three days later, the SAPD mentioned Brennand had been fired, and 6 days after that, he was arrested on two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant.

The capturing, which left Cantu hospitalized and on life assist, has garnered nationwide media consideration as the teenager’s dad and mom employed outstanding Florida-based civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who represented kin of George Floyd.

In the meantime, little is understood in regards to the ex-rookie officer, who finds himself going through the potential of being locked up — presumably for all times if Cantu does not survive — with individuals he swore to guard the general public from.

Earlier than the capturing

Jaime Beltran, Brennand’s soccer coach at Ranger Faculty, remembers him as a devoted athlete who performed above his pure potential.

“He was actually hard-working, obsessed with what he did and put in a number of effort,” mentioned Beltran, who was unaware of Brennand’s current troubles. “It was not one thing the place he was simply pure and all the things got here straightforward to him.”

From Ranger Faculty, Brennand attended Perdue College, based on his file with the Texas Fee on Legislation Enforcement.

Past his tutorial profession, data present that Brennand labored at a couple of issues throughout his early maturity, together with at what seems to have been a household transportation enterprise referred to as RB and Sons Hauling LLC — along with his father, Robert Brennand — till the corporate dissolved.

He later obtained an electrician’s license, which has since lapsed.

At one level, he served as a navy canine ​​handler within the US Military, his LinkedIn profile states, although it is unclear when he served.

Brennand began coaching on the San Antonio Police Academy in July 2021 as a member of sophistication 2021-C, the place his coaching included courses in de-escalation methods and racial profiling.

Two of his classmates contacted for this story declined to remark about their time coaching alongside the previous officer. One mentioned {that a} SAPD official advised him to not converse to the media.

Neighbor noticed completely different facet

In 2019, Brennand married Danielle Adelia Brennand, her Fb profile exhibits. She additionally served within the navy working with educated canines, based on media reviews.

In July 2021, the identical month that Brennand enrolled on the police academy, the couple purchased a home collectively on the Southeast Aspect.

Since then, Brennand’s life has modified significantly — even earlier than the capturing.

In March, Brennand filed for divorce, based on county data, a couple of days after his police academy commencement pinning ceremony, the place his father did the honors. His petition for divorce was amended two days earlier than the capturing.

His spouse gave start just lately, her mom’s Fb web page exhibits.

And this month, the couple’s house was listed on the market at just below $300,000.

One of many couple’s neighbors, Belinda Rodriguez, 37, mentioned James Brennand was the primary particular person she met within the neighborhood after shifting into her home in 2021, whereas she was pregnant along with her now 13-month-old child.

She recalled a day when Brennand drove up whereas she was in entrance of her home and struck up a dialog. She described him as “nice” and “actual pleasant,” saying that when a bundle for her was delivered to her home, she left a observe on her door.

Rodriguez discovered in regards to the capturing within the information and mentioned the physique digicam video footage was “exhausting to look at.”

“I used to be so unhappy once I noticed that video,” she mentioned. “I could not imagine it.”

The video, launched by the SAPD three days after the capturing, exhibits that Brennand had responded to a disturbance exterior the McDonald’s within the 117000 block of Blanco Street when he noticed Cantu’s 2008 BMV sedan within the parking zone. Though the automobile was not concerned within the disturbance, Brennand believed it was one which had evaded him the night time earlier than, and he suspected that it was stolen — a suspicion later proved false.

Brennand referred to as for backup however approached {the teenager}’s automobile earlier than different officers arrived. He abruptly opened the automobile’s driver-side door and demanded that Cantu step out.

Startled, {the teenager} put the BMV in reverse and backed out of the parking spot as Brennand reached into the automobile to seize Cantu, however the teen evaded his grasp. Brennand then fired 5 pictures at Cantu because the automobile backed up and 5 extra because it sped away.

{The teenager} sustained a number of gunshot wounds to his abdomen, liver, diaphragm, lungs, bicep and forearm, and he stays in essential situation at College Hospital.

Whereas horrified by the incident, Rodriguez did not notice — and was shocked when advised — that her neighbor was the officer concerned.

“Oh wow,” she mentioned. “That is the James that lives throughout the road?”

Brennand did not strike her as somebody able to doing what he is accused of, and she or he mentioned she would not thoughts persevering with to reside throughout the road from him.

However whereas it would not misery her if he remained her neighbor, “I most likely would not need to be so pleasant … realizing what occurred.”

michelle.delrey@hearst.com

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