'He was just mutilated': Parents of San Antonio teenager shot dead in McDonald's parking lot say every day is a struggle

‘He was just mutilated’: Parents of San Antonio teenager shot dead in McDonald’s parking lot say every day is a struggle

Parents of Erik Cantu, the 17-year-old boy who was shot by a San Antonio police officer in a McDonald’s parking lot, say the past three weeks have been a ‘horrific roller coaster’ as their son continues to fight for his life.

“He has just been mutilated, and it hurts us to see our son like this,” his mother, Victoria Casarez, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

His father, Eric Cantu, said the situation is “very delicate” and that Cantu has recently developed pneumonia, which has complicated his progress.

It was the first time Cantu’s parents have spoken publicly about the Oct. 2 shooting, when Officer James Brennand opened fire on the teen. Brennand was fired and charged with aggravated assault.

Police body camera video showed Cantu was in a brown vehicle in the restaurant parking lot when Brennand opened the driver’s door and ordered him out.

Cantu was in the driver’s seat eating a hamburger and a 17-year-old girl was in the passenger seat.

Cantu put the car in reverse with the driver’s door still open and pushed back. Capt. Alyssa Campos, the police department’s training commander, said in a video statement that the door hit Brennand.

An officer opens the driver's door and orders Erik Cantu out of the vehicle in San Antonio, Texas on October 2, 2022.
An officer opens the driver’s door and orders Erik Cantu out of the vehicle in San Antonio on October 2.San Antonio Police Department

Brennand opened fire five times as the car backed up, video showed. He fired five more shots as Cantu walked away. Cantu was found about a block away with multiple gunshot wounds. He remains in the hospital on life support.

“Erik is not our Erik,” his father said, adding that Cantu had had a tracheostomy and was on heavy medication. “While the doctors have been trying to wean him off these things for the past few days, it doesn’t seem to be counteracting the way we expected. So these little steps that we see daily, we keep coming back.”

Cantu’s parents said they believe he was shot four times. Her mother said all the bullets were removed except for one that remained lodged near her heart.

“They are unable to let people know at this time. It would do more harm than good,” she told reporters.

Police say Brennand was called to McDonald’s on Blanco Road for an unrelated disturbance call and approached Cantu’s car because he believed she had slipped away from him the day before when he tried to drive away. carry out a roadside check. Campos said Brennand believed the car was stolen, a claim the family denies.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the family, said Brennand had racially profiled Cantu and “believed he had the right to just eviscerate the Constitution.” Partner attorney Paul Grinke said he plans to review policies and training at the San Antonio Police Department.

At the time of the shooting, Brennand had been on the force for seven months and was still on probation, a common practice for San Antonio officers who graduated from the police academy less than a year ago. He was fired after the shooting, then arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault on October 11. He posted bail and was released.

“These incidents don’t start the moment the trigger is pulled,” Grinke said. “They start over in the hiring process, in the training process, in the retention process, and in the policies and procedures of each police department.”

CORRECTION (October 26, 2022, 3:50 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the first name of the father of the teenager shot dead by San Antonio police. He is Eric Cantu, not Erik.

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