OC DA Clears Garden Grove Police in Hostage Taker Shooting

OC DA Rackauckas
OC DA Rackauckas

A married couple got a rude awakening on the morning of November 1, 2014 in their Garden Grove home, when crashing noises woke them up. The husband darted from his bed to confront John Brantley Jr. In his backyard; the man pleaded for safety from gang members who supposedly threatened him at a nearby laundromat.

According to a report released this week by the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office, Brantley's story didn't hold up when Garden Grove police arrived minutes later. A brief but tense hostage standoff ensued ending with the intruder dying of three slugs to the chest.

Brantley, a 43-year-old with a criminal history of robbery, burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon, got inside the couple's home, but not before the husband grabbed a shotgun with bird shot rounds in the magazine. His wife phoned police and four officers responded to a call of a robbery in progress.

Led by Garden Grove Corporal Timothy Kovacs, the cops told the wife to open the door. Brantley nonsensically claimed that the police couldn't come in because he had an arrest warrant. He argued with the couple when the wife reached for the door again, pulling out a knife and putting her in a choke hold. She managed to break free of the man's clutches and opened the door. Brantley rushed the husband and stabbed him during a struggle for control of the shotgun.

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Cpl. Kovacs ran into the home only to see the intruder's hands getting close to the shotgun's trigger and pump. With the weapon starting to point in his direction, the cop fired three times striking Brantley down. A doctor pronounced him dead just half-an-hour later.

"The prospect of being shot with a 12-gauge shotgun is clearly deadly," the OCDA report concludes. "Officer Kovacs' reaction was clearly reasonable and lawfully justified."

As always, read the report in its entirety online.

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2

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