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Published on March 04, 2024
San Antonio Judge Orders DA's Office to Release Communications with Reform Group in Ex-Officer's Shooting CaseSource: Google Street View

In the latest development within the contentious case gripping San Antonio, a judge has mandated that the DA's office disclose communications with a reform group to the defense team of James Brennand, the former SAPD officer charged with the shooting of a teenager. The 437th District Court Judge Joel Perez's decision comes amid allegations from Brennand's legal counsel that the district attorney may have been swayed by outside influences, reported KSAT.

Documents exposed by KSAT depicted exchanges in which Jessica Brand, head of the Wren Collective, advised the DA's staff regarding the high-profile shooting event; these documents will now be handed to Brennand's defense under a judicial protective order, ensuring they remain confidential outside of legal counsel's purview. In October 2022, Brennand, a then-rookie cop, opened fire on Erik Cantu in a fast-food great lot, critically wounding the teen and igniting a wildfire of controversy over police conduct, after identifying Cantu's vehicle as one involved in a prior evasion incident, charges against Cantu were later dismissed by the DA’s office setting the stage for Brennand's indictment, however, Brennand’s team has sought a venue change but the ruling on that is yet to appear, following Thursday’s expected hearing.

The story, as broken by the San Antonio Express-News, further outlined the depth of the relationship between the Wren Collective and District Attorney Joe Gonzales's office; they were reportedly advising on policy and high-profile cases, including the Brennand case. Brand, a vocal critic of mass incarceration and an advocate for justice system reform offered her group's consultancy to the DA's Office pro bono; Brennand's defense counsel has cast suspicions on this relationship, indicating a possible conflict of interest where the Wren Collective's influence could affect the former officer's right to a fair trial.

Brennand's attorneys have spotlighted comments made by Gonzales at a post-incident news conference where he cited his dismay with the video footage of the shooting, “What disturbs me from the video is that at the moment (Brennand) fired and then continued to fire, his life didn’t appear to be in danger,” said Gonzales, which Brennand's legal team says could prejudice potential jurors, his defense is now working to move the trial, alleging a tainted jury pool in Bexar County, while Brennand remains charged with aggravated assault, his career in ruins and his name forever linked to a grievous event that has yet again forced us to question the very underpinnings of justice and the wielding of power in uniform.

Evidentiary hearings are slated for March 7.