Timothy M. Brennan and Robert Ladd

Last updated
Timothy Brennan & Robert Ladd
Tim Brennan & Robert Ladd (1980s).jpg
Compton Gang Unit Timothy M. Brennan and Robert Ladd in the 1980s
BornMarch 2, 1959 (Brennan)
(1959-02-19) February 19, 1959 (age 64) (Ladd)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S. (Brennan)
Hawthorne, California, U.S. (Ladd)
DiedNovember 16, 2021(2021-11-16) (aged 62) (Brennan)
Police career
CountryUnited States
Department Compton Police Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Garden Grove Police Department
Service years1982 2014
RankPolice Officers - 1982–1988
Detectives - 1988–2015
Other workGang Work Experts
Seminars and Training
Los Angeles Riots Experts
Experts on Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G./"Biggie Smalls" Murder Cases

Timothy M. Brennan [1] (March 2, 1959 – November 16, 2021) [2] and Robert Ladd (born February 19, 1959) joined the Compton Police Department as officers in 1982 and 1983, respectively. In 1988, they were promoted to become Compton's two-man gang unit. The police department could only afford to have two people at the time, even though many smaller cities typically had up to four times as many. As the gang unit, Brennan and Ladd were responsible for dealing with and investigating over fifty-five gangs in the 10.1 square mile area that make up the City of Compton. They have served as the primary or assisting investigating officers on hundreds of gang-related murders and thousands of gang-related shootings, and witnessed instances of gang-related rapes, robberies, drive-by shootings, and shootings at police officers.


Brennan and Ladd were present in Compton during the burgeoning days of Gangsta rap when it began in the 1980s and knew many of the artists involved in what would become hip hop genre. They investigated and/or assisted investigations involving such figures as Tupac Shakur, Marion "Suge" Knight, David "DJ Quik" Blake, Eric "Eazy-E" Wright, Calvin "Snoop Dogg" Broadus, Eric "Lil Eazy" Wright, Jr., Jayceon "The Game" Taylor, and Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace, among others. In the '80s, when Brennan and Ladd were a presence on the Compton streets, a young DJ Quik had an underground rap song called "Blondie," describing Brennan.

Brennan and Ladd are featured in the Noisey/Vice.com film The Story Of 'Fuck Tha Police', starring N.W.A members Ice Cube and DJ Yella discussing the making of their eponymous seminal rap protest song. [3] They are also heavily featured in the three-part A&E miniseries Streets of Compton, executive produced and narrated by rapper The Game. [4]

Brennan and Ladd each retired from law enforcement in 2014 and currently reside in Orange County. They are still actively involved in providing gang training to schools, businesses, federal and local police and prosecutors across the country, U.S. military personnel, and police departments in countries in Europe. They have provided gang-related intelligence and evidence for prosecution for law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies across the country. As gang investigators, they travel extensively throughout California, Texas, Nevada, Illinois, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Washington, Arizona, and Iowa on gang-related investigations.

Their book Once Upon A Time In Compton, written with author/screenwriter Lolita Files, about their years in the Compton Gang Unit, the rise of Gangsta rap, gang wars, the L.A. riots, the investigations of the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., and the fall of the Compton Police Department, was published on April 25, 2017. [5]

Brennan passed away on November 16, 2021. At the time cause of his death was not released to the public. Until Robert Ladd confirmed to DJ Vlad, that Brennan died from cancer.


Early lives

Timothy M. Brennan was born in Chicago, IL and grew up in Park Ridge, near O'Hare International Airport on the northwest side of the city. Brennan's family had a long history in construction and law enforcement. His father Richard and brothers Mike and Pat were carpenters. His mother Madeleine had been a longtime secretary and matron for the Park Ridge Police Department, and both of his grandfathers and his great uncle were Chicago cops from the 1920s through the 1950s and had worked through the gang wars of Al Capone and the Italian gangsters against Bugs Moran and the Irish gangsters. Brennan joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve at seventeen while still in high school. He was stationed in New Jersey, Virginia, Louisiana, and Illinois. He worked construction by day and got his high school diploma by going to school at night. Eventually, the Chicago winters took their toll, and in February 1981, Brennan put his motorcycle and clothes in the back of his mini pickup and headed out west with $1200, a new lease on life, and a desire to be a cop - a real cop in an area with a high crime rate, where real police work could be done. After looking for work and a place to stay in Arizona and Nevada, and with only $500 left, he decided to try Long Beach, California. He stored his bike and, as his money dwindled, slept in his truck. He eventually found construction work and got an apartment in downtown Long Beach.

Robert Ladd was born in Hawthorne, CA and was raised in and has lived in Garden Grove, CA all of his life. He met his wife Kathy when they were in junior high, attended high school with her, and they were married shortly after graduating. Ladd worked several different construction jobs until he decided that he wanted to become a police officer.

Joining Compton Police Department

In January 1982, Brennan joined the Compton Police Department. Even though Compton was not ranked nationally because the population was under 100,000, the city consistently had murder rates topping the nation's major cities. In the fall of that year, Brennan met his future wife, JoAnna Ramirez, who also worked for the department. Two-and-a-half years later they married and had two children, Brian (born 1987) and Jamie (born 1990).

In 1983, 24-year-old Ladd was fresh out of the police academy. He had been working as a reserve officer at the Garden Grove Police Department. By this time, Ladd had one child, his son Brian, and his wife was pregnant with his daughter Shannon. He was struggling financially, working construction at Miller's Outpost at the time, making just $200 a week. His pregnant wife Kathy was working as a waitress at Coco's Restaurant. Ladd was working several days a week at the Garden Grove Police Department trying to learn how to be a cop, but he needed a full-time position. During that time, however, Garden Grove P.D. had a hiring freeze. Ladd started applying everywhere. One of his arrest and control tactical officers during his time in the academy was a guy from the Huntington Beach Police Department named Barry Case. Case had started his career at the Compton Police Department and Ladd could tell the man loved his time there from the war stories he told. Case had advised Ladd and others in the academy that if they wanted to be a real cop, go work for Compton. Compton had been among the many police departments where Ladd had put in an application and they were the first to offer him a position. Remembering Barry Case's words and wanting to learn real police work, he took the job.

In 1985, Brennan and Ladd became partners and remained a team for the next 15 years, until 2000 when the Compton Police Department closed. [6]

Promotion To Compton Police Department gang unit

In 1988, the Compton Police Department formed a gang unit, but because there was a manpower shortage, [7] it only consisted of two men: Brennan and Ladd. Even though the police department was predominantly African-American, Brennan and Ladd, who are both white, were promoted because of their reputation for being exceptional at gang work and the regard they had among gang members and citizens who often felt they could be trusted to treat them with respect and humanity. Their sergeant, Reggie Wright Sr., chose them for the positions and Lieutenant Hourie Taylor approved the promotion. It didn't take Brennan and Ladd long to start infiltrating gangs, solving murders, and drive-by shootings. Over the next twelve years, they developed an exceptional level of expertise regarding the dynamics of gang culture.

Murders of Compton police officers Kevin Burrell and James MacDonald

On the night of February 22, 1993, veteran Compton police officer Kevin Burrell and reserve officer James MacDonald rode together. MacDonald had just gotten hired full-time as a police officer in Northern California and was working his last night as a part of the Compton force. Both men were brutally murdered by "Bounty Hunter" Bloods gang member Regis Deon Thomas. Brennan and Ladd were a part of the task force that was formed in the wake of these murders that ultimately led to the arrest and conviction of Thomas, who was sentenced to California's death row. [8]

Fall of Compton Police Department/post-Compton PD police work

On September 16, 2000, the Compton Police Department was disbanded by the City Council [9] and law enforcement services were provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Brennan joined the LA Sheriff's Department and served as a Gang Investigator on a Gang Homicide Task Force. Ladd joined the Garden Grove Police Department and served as a Sergeant in charge of the gang unit. Both men retired from active duty in law enforcement in 2014, but still act as consultants on gang training and are experts on the Los Angeles riots, the Tupac Shakur murder case, and the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.

1992 Los Angeles riots

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots that erupted after the not-guilty verdict for the police officers who were filmed beating Rodney King, a task force consisting of members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the LAPD, the Long Beach Police Department, the Inglewood Police Department, the Compton Police Department, and the FBI, along with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and State's Attorney's Office, was formed to investigate riot-related crimes. Brennan was appointed as the Compton PD representative. This was his first task force. Brennan divided his time between investigating ongoing shootings and murders in Compton with his task force investigations. Thousands of hours of video were reviewed and hundreds of gang members and others were identified in numerous crimes and numerous arrests were made.

Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G./Biggie Smalls murder investigations

In 1996, Brennan and Ladd were assigned to assist the Las Vegas Police Department in the Tupac Shakur murder investigation.[ citation needed ]

In 1997, Brennan was assigned to assist the LAPD in rapper The Notorious B.I.G.'s murder investigation. From 2006 to 2007, he was assigned to The Notorious B.I.G. Task Force investigation with the LAPD.

Brennan wrote a 40-location gang warrant affidavit that chronicled the investigation into these shootings. The affidavit named Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson as a suspect in Tupac's shooting. The affidavit established the "East Coast vs West Coast" rap rivalry, and the rivalry between "Biggie Smalls," who used Compton "Southside Crips" as security, and Suge Knight and Tupac, who used Compton Mob Piru as security.

He was quoted in a September 7, 2002 article in the Los Angeles Times: [10]

I believe Tupac's murder could have been solved--and it still could be," said Tim Brennan, a Compton gang investigator now with the Sheriff's Department. "All the clues are right there. What the investigation lacked was input from detectives who understood the gangs involved and how they operate and who all the players are. I believe justice could still be served."


The book Once Upon A Time In Compton, by Brennan and Ladd with author/screenwriter Lolita Files, about their years in the Compton Gang Unit, the rise of Gangsta rap, gang wars, the L.A. riots, the investigations of the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., and the fall of the Compton Police Department, was published on April 25, 2017.


Brennan and Ladd were previously working with writers and producers to develop a dramatic television series inspired by their experiences in the Compton Gang Unit.[ needs update? ] However, Brennan passed away suddenly in 2021. (Death date- in this article)

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suge Knight</span> American music executive (born 1965)

Marion Hugh "Suge" Knight Jr. is an American music executive and convicted felon who is the co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Knight was a central figure in gangsta rap's commercial success in the 1990s. This feat is attributed to the record label's first two album releases: Dr. Dre's The Chronic in 1992 and Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle in 1993. Knight is serving a 28-year sentence in prison for a fatal hit-and-run in 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orlando Anderson</span> Prime suspect in the murder of Tupac Shakur (1974–1998)

Orlando Tive "Baby Lane" Anderson was an American gang member suspected in the murder of Tupac Shakur. Anderson belonged to the California-based gang known as the South Side Compton Crips. Detective Tim Brennan of the Compton Police Department filed an affidavit naming Anderson as a suspect; he denied involvement and was never charged. Anderson's uncle, Duane Keith Davis, was charged with Shakur's murder on September 29, 2023.

<i>Biggie & Tupac</i> 2002 film

Biggie & Tupac is a 2002 feature-length documentary film about the murdered American rappers Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace and Tupac Shakur by Nick Broomfield.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rampart scandal</span> Police corruption scandal that happened in Los Angeles, California, US

The Rampart scandal was a police corruption scandal which unfolded in Los Angeles, California, United States, during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The scandal concerned widespread criminal activity within the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) anti-gang unit of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division. More than 70 police officers were initially implicated in various forms of misconduct, including unprovoked shootings and beatings, planting of false evidence, stealing and dealing narcotics, bank robbery, perjury, and cover-ups thereof.

Russell Wayne Poole was a Los Angeles Police Department detective who investigated the murder of the Notorious B.I.G., a rapper also known as Biggie Smalls. Poole also investigated the killing of LAPD Officer Kevin Gaines by LAPD Officer Frank Lyga on March 18, 1997. After retiring in 1999, he formed a private detective agency.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry</span> 1990s dispute between artists / fans of the East Coast and West Coast hip hop scenes in the US

The East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry was a dispute between artists and fans of the East Coast hip hop and West Coast hip hop scenes in the United States during the 1990s. Focal points of the feud were East Coast–based rapper The Notorious B.I.G. with Puff Daddy and their New York City–based label, Bad Boy Records, and West Coast–based rapper Tupac Shakur with Suge Knight and their Los Angeles–based label, Death Row Records. Reaching its peak between 1994 and 1997, the feud culminated in the murders of both rappers in drive-by shootings. Although several suspects have been identified, both murders remain unsolved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rafael Pérez (police officer)</span> Former Los Angeles Police officer and convicted criminal

Ray Lopez is an American former police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the central figure in the LAPD Rampart scandal. An officer with the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) task force, Pérez was involved in numerous crimes and corruption, notably the shooting and framing of Javier Ovando, in addition to the theft and resale of at least $800,000 of cocaine from LAPD evidence lockers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Mack (police officer)</span> American runner and police officer convicted for bank robbery

David Anthony Mack is a former professional runner and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer involved in the Rampart Division's Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) unit. He was one of the central figures in the LAPD Rampart police corruption scandal. Mack was arrested in December 1997 for robbery of $722,000 from a South Central Los Angeles branch of the Bank of America. He was sentenced to fourteen years and three months in federal prison. Mack has never revealed the whereabouts of the money.

Kevin Lee Gaines was an American police officer assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums unit implicated in the Rampart scandal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sanyika Shakur</span> American author (1963–2021)

Sanyika Shakur, also known by his former street moniker Monster or Monster Kody, was an American author and former gangster. He was a member of the Los Angeles-based Eight Tray Gangster Crips. He got his nickname as a 13-year-old gang member when he beat and stomped a robbery victim until he was disfigured. Shakur claimed to have reformed in prison, joined the Republic of New Afrika movement, and wrote a 1993 memoir called Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member.

<i>The Killing of Tupac Shakur</i> Biographical book on events that surrounded Tupac Shakurs death

The Killing of Tupac Shakur is a biographical, true crime account by American journalist and author Cathy Scott of the 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur. The book made news upon its September 1997 release, on the first anniversary of Shakur's death, because of an autopsy photo included in its pages. It was the first book to be released covering the rapper's death. The book was reprinted in the UK by Plexus Publishing and in Poland by Kagra. Coverage of the autopsy photo, taken of Shakur's body on a gurney in the coroner's examining room, catapulted the book onto the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. New editions of the book were released in 2002 and 2014.

<i>The Murder of Biggie Smalls</i> Non-fiction book by Cathy Scott

The Murder of Biggie Smalls is a non-fiction true crime book by author and journalist Cathy Scott. Published in October 2000 by St. Martin's Press, it covers the March 9, 1997 murder of the Notorious B.I.G. in a drive-by shooting. A second updated edition of the book was released in September 2021.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chuck Philips</span> American writer and investigative journalist (1952–2024)

Charles Alan Philips was an American writer and journalist. He was best known for his investigative reporting in the Los Angeles Times on the culture, corruption, and crime in the music industry during the 1990s and 2000s, which garnered both awards and controversy. In 1999, Philips won a Pulitzer Prize, with Michael A. Hiltzik, for their co-authored series exposing corruption in the entertainment industry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Murder of Tupac Shakur</span> Murder of an American rapper in 1996

On September 7, 1996, at 11:15 p.m. (PDT), Tupac Shakur, a 25-year old American rapper, was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The shooting occurred when the car carrying Shakur was stopped at a red light at East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greg Kading</span> American detective

Gregory James Kading is a Canadian-American author and former Los Angeles Police Department detective best known for working on a multi law-enforcement task force that investigated the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls in the mid-2000s. Many credit Kading and his LAPD task force for the 2023 arrest of Duane ‘Keefe D’ Davis for the September 1996 murder of rap icon Tupac Shakur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Murder of the Notorious B.I.G.</span> 1997 unsolved murder of American rapper

Christopher Wallace, an American rapper known professionally as the Notorious B.I.G., was murdered in a drive-by shooting in the early hours of March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, California. He was 24 years old.

Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant is a Haitian-born music executive and promoter in the rap music industry as well as a convicted felon and accused rapist. He has worked with several popular artists including Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Justin Rose, and Wyclef Jean. In 2007, he was deported from the United States.

<i>City of Lies</i> 2018 crime film directed by Brad Furman

City of Lies is a 2021 crime thriller film about the investigations by the Los Angeles Police Department of the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. It is directed by Brad Furman, with a screenplay by Christian Contreras based on the non-fiction book LAbyrinth by Randall Sullivan. The film stars Johnny Depp as retired LAPD detective Russell Poole and Forest Whitaker as journalist Jack Jackson, with Rockmond Dunbar and Neil Brown Jr. also starring.

Duane Keith "Keefe D" Davis is an American gang member. He was charged with involvement in the 1996 murder of Tupac Shakur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wardell Fouse</span> Bloods gang member implicated in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G

Wardell Fouse, also known by his aliases Darnell Bolton and Poochie, was a Bloods gang member who was implicated in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. Since Fouse was deceased by the time his alleged involvement became known to the investigating police, no charges were filed against him.


  1. "Authorities concentrate on Compton to cut gang deaths". USA Today.
  2. "Former Compton PD Gang Unit Officer Timothy Brennan Has Passed Away". www.vladtv.com.
  3. "The Story Of "Fuck Tha Police" - A Noisey Film". Vice.com.
  4. "Streets of Compton". aetv.com/shows.
  5. Once Upon a Time in Compton. 1st edition. 10 February 2018.
  6. "Archives". Los Angeles Times . 12 July 2000.
  7. "Understaffed Compton Police Lose in Recruitment Race". Los Angeles Times. 1988-03-10. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
  8. "Killer of 2 Compton Police Officers Sentenced to Death". Los Angeles Times. 16 August 1995.
  9. "Judge Refuses to Halt Disbanding of Police Force". Los Angeles Times. 29 August 2000.
  10. "How Vegas police probe floundered in Tupac Shakur case". Los Angeles Times. 30 January 2015.