Simi Valley Killing : Deputy Won’t Be Charged in Shooting of Intruder

Times Staff Writer

No criminal charges will be filed against an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed an intruder who broke into the officer’s Simi Valley apartment while looking for a drug dealer, the Ventura County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

The Jan. 20 shooting of John Theodore Little, 26, by Joe Mario Grasso was a “justifiable homicide” because Grasso was acting to protect himself and his home, according to a district attorney’s report.

“There is no credible basis to believe anything other than Grasso and his wife reacted to perceptions of danger that were reasonable,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas J. Hutchins, who prepared the report.

Simi Valley police investigated the shooting and had sent their findings to the district attorney’s office.


Grasso, 25, told authorities that Little banged on his door about 1 a.m. and demanded to see a man named Rick. After Grasso told Little that he was at the wrong apartment, Little went to another apartment and then returned to Grasso’s apartment, the report said.

Little, a Simi Valley resident, was searching for a man he had paid to supply him with cocaine at a local restaurant but who had not returned with the drug, police said. The dealer apparently lived in the same apartment complex in the 1700 block of Cochran Street as Grasso and his wife, Robin, police said.

Little, who was unarmed, then began yelling and kicking the door of Grasso’s apartment, the report said. Meanwhile, Grasso and his wife armed themselves with revolvers, the report said.

After Little broke open the door to the apartment and appeared to enter, Grasso began shooting, the report said.


Little ran from the second-story apartment, then paused on the stairs, and Grasso fired again, the report said.

Grasso’s wife, believing her husband had been shot, also fired several rounds at Little but missed, the report said.

Little, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was struck by four bullets, a coroner’s report said.