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Judge Tosses Case Against Driver In FL Officer Deaths

Judge Tosses Case Against Driver In FL Officer Deaths

Officer David Curis (Left) and Officer Jeffrey Kocab (Right)

Tampa Bay Tribune via YellowBrix

October 29, 2010

TAMPA – A judge has dismissed the federal case against Cortnee Brantley, who authorities say was the driver during a traffic stop that left two Tampa police officers dead.

Brantley, 22, was charged with failing to report a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. She had been free on bail.

Police say Brantley was driving the 1994 Toyota Camry pulled over by Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab in East Tampa on June 29; Dontae Morris was her passenger.

Morris, 25, is charged in state court with first-degree murder in the officers’ deaths.

Authorities say Brantley drove away after the shootings and later exchanged texts with Morris.

But at a hearing today, U.S. District Judge James Moody said prosecutors had to prove Brantley acted to conceal the felony in order to support the charge.

In a seven-page order issued hours later, Moody concluded none of Brantley’s actions concealed the possession of a firearm or ammunition by Morris, a convicted felon.

Federal prosecutors haven’t decided whether to appeal.

“We’re reviewing the judge’s order at this time,” said U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill.

The Hillsborough County state attorney’s office has not decided whether to charge Brantley in state court, spokesman Mark Cox said.


Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor badge is covered with a black and blue stripe as she addresses the media during a news conference Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Tampa, Fla. [AP]

“We’ve been in contact with the Tampa Police Department, and we’re reviewing the case,” Cox told The Tampa Tribune.

In arguing for the federal indictment to be dismissed, defense attorney Grady Irvin said the case should be handled in state court. He contended Brantley has a Fifth Amendment right not to give authorities information about the slayings because doing so might implicate her in state crimes, such as being an accessory after the fact or tampering with evidence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston said Brantley hid the commission of a federal crime.

According to documents, Morris sent Brantley a text after the shooting telling her to “just lean bak stay loyal.”

“Of course,” responded Brantley. “Til death do us part.”

Moody ruled the texts weren’t enough to support the charge: “An act of concealment must be carried out, not merely talked about.”

Preston said Brantley removed evidence and a witness – her car and herself – from the scene. He also said the scene was disturbed when the car came in contact with the officers’ bodies.

Moody found the government presented no evidence Brantley altered, cleaned or tried to hide the car, “or even attempted to delay law enforcement in any way from locating the vehicle (other than leaving the location of the shooting).”

To support the criminal charge, the judge said at the hearing, the prosecution had to show more than the fact that Brantley failed to tell authorities about Morris.

“She’s not required to tell,” Moody said.

“Yes, she is,” Preston said. “She still has a duty to report. It’s just not a crime until there’s an act of concealment.”

When Brantley texted that she would be loyal, “she is agreeing to affirmatively conceal the crime,” Preston argued.

Moody also said Brantley’s refusal to divulge Morris’ name “is not actively concealing.”

Preston said courts have ruled that concealing a perpetrator’s identity satisfies the requirement. He said Brantley “absolutely, I’d say over 100 times, refused” to name Morris.

That’s not a crime, Moody ruled, citing the Fifth Amendment.

  • Flowers_20_234__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I have never been so disgusted! It cheeses me off that this chick basically gets away with murder..and yes, that's how I feel..she knew, she "participated", she concealed the identity of the shooter, and she didn't assist in trying to help the officers while they layed there dying

  • 12235_sq90_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This just makes me sick !

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime ....nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.

    So the judge cited the 5th Amendment in this case. Apparently said judge does not understand the 5th protects against SELF INCRIMINATION and not the incrimination against others. Morris is a piece of trash as is Brantley for not informing proper authorities therefore leading to the deaths of two officers, husbands and fathers.

    Remove the judge from the bench. 'Nuff said

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    the judge needs to be forcefully removed from the bench !!! It's a shame this idiot judge was given this case .

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Another bad decision from the bench, hopefully they will charge he at the state level.

  • 2010-10-03_17


    almost 4 years ago


    I am sick to my stomach to know that this Judge let her walk on the obvious. This is devastating to the Tampa Police family, Jeff and Dave's survived family. I am disgusted by Moody's lack of responsibility to his judgment and duty.

  • Hard_badge_002_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    She was just as involved in Felony muder as the actual shooter was, she had to know what his background was and his intentions,she needs to be tried on the same level as the other POS!

  • Picture_204_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    "other than leaving with the car" - gee thats not trying to get away or hide the car or remove the murderer from the scene. they both should be tried for murder.

  • Btjustice_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Very sad ... very sad .... Rest in Peace Brothers - Prayers to your family and the police community.

  • 1979_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    What the hell? I firmly believe that she should have been charged with two counts of capital murder in the death of these two Officers. She was definitely a full-blown accomplice.

  • Police_link_badge_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    RIP X 2

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    alexy , as usual you are a person of few words but your words are drawn on by wisdom . The final justice for this person will be dealt out by the absolute Judge and it will be for all eternity !

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    I understand the Judge believes the ruling to be correct. But it will not ever be understood by the families of the Officers who were so needlessly murdered. Hopefully justice will be served in this case.

  • Policelinkbadge_max160_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    We kep expecting judges to get it right....we keep getting shafted.

  • Aaa_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    An absolutely disgusting ruling. These officers and their survivors deserved more

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