Citizens must fight for better police training so people like Erik Cantu don’t get shot


ERIK CANTU MOMENTS BEFORE SHOOTING: Police Officer, James Brennand suddenly bursts open Erik Cantu’s car door. San Antonio Police Department

Sienna Miller | Writer

October 14, 2022

On October 2nd, 2022, Erik Cantu was shot in a Mcdonald’s parking lot in Texas by a police officer. The Police officer, James Brennand, saw Erik’s car and noticed that he had eluded him the day before. He approached the car, not waiting for backup. Brennand abruptly opened his car door and Cantu put his car in reverse, hoping to escape. The car door was still open, and Brennand fired five shots at Cantu as he attempted to drive. He paused as the vehicle changed gears to drive forward, away from the escalated situation. After Cantu proceeded to drive away, Brennand fired another five shots at the departing vehicle. 

Cantu and a passenger were found soon after, about a block away from the incident; Cantu was on the verge of dying, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. His family said he is currently in the hospital on life support and has massive damage to major organs.

Cantu was charged with evading a police official and assault. However, these accusations have currently been rejected. Nevertheless, Bexar County District Attorney, Joe Gonzalez, makes clear that Cantu may be prosecuted further and that this is not the end for him. Brennand was fired from his job and is not being provided legal aid from the police department. As of now, he is being charged with assault.

This was not simply just a mistake. Brennand deliberately fired, stopped, and then repeated shooting, even though he knew Cantu was not a risk to his safety. He thought about his actions and decided that the best thing to do in this situation was to shoot a 17-year-old child. 

POLICE SHOOTING STATISTICS: fatal police shootings from 2015-2022. Statista

“I think it is completely fair that Brennand is facing charges,” says senior Emily Ellinger. “He shot a minor over and over again. I don’t think anything else needs to be said; Cantu wasn’t endangering him in any way, and did not deserve this.”

This is the perfect display of why police officers in the United States need to be more qualified and have more adequate training. “The police department needs to start putting their money towards an effective training program that teaches officers how to deal with a situation without using extreme, unnecessary violence,” sophomore Elora Aguliar said. “If the officer had just let him drive away while getting his license plate number, or even just waited for backup, the young boy would not be in the hospital.

Unlawful shootings in the United States, especially those by police officers are constantly overlooked and have been far too normalized. As a society, we need to break this perpetual cycle and finally make a change. Shootings are recognized for a day, sometimes even a month; but eventually, the world just moves on until someone gets shot again. Cantu was just an ordinary teen until this tragic, life-altering incident, just like so many other people who are victims of gun violence. Congress needs to start taking action by implementing heavier gun control, in addition to instructing police academies to teach more virtuous and honorable ways to handle chaotic situations. The people of the United States need to make it apparent that if Congress doesn’t make a change, they will be replaced in the election with someone who will; for the sake of American citizens’ lives. Individuals must come together and protest, not just for a month; not just until people forget, but until there is a fundamental change. 

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