Police arrest one suspect in deadly shooting of Tampa officers

By Calvin Palmer

One of two suspects in the fatal shooting of two Tampa Police officers this morning has been taken into custody.

Police were tipped off that Cortnee Nicole Brantley, 22, the woman wanted for questioning in the deaths of officers Dave Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, was in an apartment complex on Bristol Bay Way.

The shooting occurred around 2:15 a.m. when an officer pulled over a red Toyota Camry that was not showing a visible tag. The officer called for back up after a background check revealed the male passenger was wanted for a misdemeanor, Tampa Police said.

Shortly afterwards, a witness called to say two police officers had been shot.

Officers Kocab and Curtis, both 31, were shot in the head at 50th Street and 23rd Avenue.

The male passenger in the car was identified as Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, an ex-convict with a lengthy arrest record and no known address.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Morris on two charges of first-degree murder and felony possession of a firearm.

Morris is described as black in his mid to late 20s, 5 feet 10 inches and weighing 150 to 170 pounds. He had a short afro and was last seen wearing brown shorts and a white T-shirt and a black vest. He is wanted on an outstanding warrant from Jacksonville.

Police said Morris shot both officers as they attempted to arrest him, and fled on foot while Brantley drove away.

The 1994 red Toyota Camry was later located at the Bristol Bay Apartments about a mile from the scene of the shooting.

Kocab and Curtis both died at Tampa General Hospital. Curtis’s family kept his body on life support for several hours so his organs could be donated, police said.

Kocab left behind a wife who was nine months pregnant, who went into labor just a few hours after her husband died, said Mayor Pam Iorio.

Curtis was married with four children — Austin, aged nine; Sean, aged six; Tyler, aged five; and eight-month-old Hunter.

Morris’s criminal record dates back to at least 2002. He has been sent to prison twice and was released on April 4  after serving two years for cocaine charges.

He has been found guilty in Hillsborough County of obstructing or opposing an officer without violence, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, trespassing, possession of cannabis, possession of controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, battery and delivery of cocaine.

In 2006, a jury acquitted him on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, attempted robbery and possession of a short-barreled shotgun.

Cortnee Brantley’s record includes a charge of giving a false name to a law enforcement officer in Temple Terrace. She pleaded no contest to that charge in July 2006 and adjudication was withheld.

As a juvenile, she was charged in Tampa with resisting an officer and petty theft. Records indicate that she received probation for the theft but are unclear as to the outcome of the charge related to the officer.

[Based on reports by the St Petersburg Times and Associated Press.]

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