James Brennand dead and obituary, SAPD fires its rookie officer

Officer James Brennand was fired from the San Antonio Police Department Wednesday after he fired 10 shots at a teenager on Sunday.

Brennand is ineligible to appeal his termination because he is still considered a parole officer and served only seven months.

Police Chief William McManus told the San Antonio Report that Brennand’s actions were “completely contrary to the policies and education we have been taught.”

About 10.45pm Brennand was responding to a disturbance at a McDonald’s in the North End when he noticed a car in the parking lot that allegedly matched the description of the vehicle he was trying to park on Saturday.

“The car was not the subject of the accident call,” Alyssa Campos, SAPD’s training commander, said in an annotated version of Brennand’s body camera footage released Wednesday. “The officer believes the vehicle may be a stolen vehicle and called for cover.”

But the door remained open and it struck Brennand, who walked away from the car and fired five shots at the driver. Brennand fired five more shots as the car pulled out of the parking lot.

The driver and his passenger were eventually arrested a block away. The 17-year-old passenger was uninjured and the driver was taken to a nearby hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

“From that encounter, things went badly,” McManus said, asking why officers approached the vehicle in the first place. “You don’t know it’s the same car, you don’t know it’s the same driver.”

Tactically, the officer should not have stood in front of the open door of a powered car, he said. Once the officer “has cleared the door and is no longer in danger of being knocked down or pulled out of the car, he cannot use lethal force.”

The second round of gunfire was also anti-political.

“The driver was driving in the opposite direction, away from the officer,” he said. “There’s no way I could see this, or anyone could see it and try to prove what happened.”

After new officers complete their training, which includes 15 weeks of field training with another officer, they are placed on a one-year probationary period. Those on probation could be fired by the chief without notice or reason, according to the police union’s employment contract with the city.

This means they are not entitled to the same appeals process that regular civil servants can use.

“The Commissioner acted swiftly to fire this officer, and I am relieved that this decision is final,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an emailed statement.

Brennand’s approach frees McManus from worrying about the SAPD training process.

“Our policies are solid, our education is solid,” he said. “And I don’t see anything that needs to be checked. … It’s a personal failure. There’s no failure in training, no failure in politics.”

Police say the driver, who is in stable condition, has been charged with evading custody and assaulting a sheriff. It will be up to the Bexar County Attorney’s Office whether to proceed with the charges.

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