Civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent family of San Antonio shooting victim Erik Cantu

In Attorney Ben Crump’s announcement, he called the aggravated assault charges against the officer “woefully inadequate,” but did not say what charges he thought should be brought against him.


Stephen Maturen / Getty Images
Attorney Ben Crump (center) took a knee with members of George Floyd’s family and Rev. Al Sharpton for 8 minutes and 46 seconds outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minn., shortly before opening arguments began in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

High-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd, is now representing the family of Erik Cantu, the 17-year-old shot by former San Antonio Police Department officer James Brennand.

The announcement was made in a press release from Crump's law firm, Ben Crump Law PLLC. Crump said the shooting was wholly unjustified.

"It should go without saying that our children should be able to eat a meal in peace without being gunned down by police, but here we are — yet again," Crump's statement said.

Brennand shot Cantu multiple times on Oct. 2 after he approached Cantu's vehicle in a McDonald's parking lot and demanded that he get out because he wrongly believed the vehicle was stolen.

After Cantu reversed to flee, the open car door struck Brennand, and he then shot multiple times into the vehicle. As Cantu put the car in drive and attempted to drive away, Brennand shot at the moving car several more times.

Brennand was fired two days later by the SAPD. He was charged on Oct. 11 with two counts of first-degree felony aggravated assault by a public servant, which carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 99 years.

In Crump’s announcement, he called the aggravated assault charges "woefully inadequate," but did not say what charges he thought should be brought against Brennand.

Activists and supporters of Cantu have previously called for the former officer to be charged with attempted murder.

Josh Peck / Texas Public Radio
Friends of Erik Cantu gathered on the steps of SAPD headquarters asking for justice for their friend. George Ramos, one of Cantu’s close friends, stands in the center.

In the press conference when he first announced the charges, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said his department did not come to the conclusion that attempted murder charges fit, but that the district attorney's office had the last word on the decision.

"That's not the conclusion that we came with right now," McManus said. "That would be up to the DA [Joe Gonzales] if he decides to change that, but our case led us down the path of aggravated assault by a public official."

In a previous statement from Cantu's parents, they said he was still struggling nearly every day and had undergone multiple surgeries to repair bullet damage to his stomach, lungs, liver and diaphragm.

Cantu's parents also said there had been fake GoFundMe pages created that were not associated with the family. They said the only legitimate GoFundMe for Cantu was called "Support for Erik Cantu," organized by Ruben Carranco and Natalia Farias-Carranco.

Cantu is still on life support, according to Crump’s announcement. Crump said he considered it his mission to "push for justice in his name."

Brennand is currently out on bond after turning himself in and then posting a $200,000 bail. A pre-hearing is set for Nov. 23.

This story originally appeared on Texas Public Radio. TPR was founded by and is supported by the community. If you value its commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.