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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

"Brame: Who knew what, when?" - The News Tribune

...Though the Brames' allegations became public last week, many in the city and Police Department knew about the couple's contentious divorce, their earlier marital problems and an Internal Affairs investigation concerning a rape allegation against David Brame... "If there are any lessons to be learned or any policies to be changed, we'll want to do that," said City Attorney Robin Jenkinson. "That's the goal here"...

BRAME: WHO KNEW WHAT, WHEN?

Stacey Mulick; The News Tribune
April 30th, 2003

Tacoma's city manager and acting police chief said Tuesday that an outside agency will investigate how the city and police department handled the career and marital problems of David Brame.

The agency has yet to be selected but will examine two major subjects:

*The process that resulted in Brame being appointed police chief in 2002.

*What those on the force knew about the problems in Brame's life, as well as what they did with the information and who they told about it.

"I want us to see if there was something we could have done differently," acting Chief Catherine Woodard said during a meeting with The News Tribune Editorial Board. "We can no longer defend Dave Brame."

Brame, 44, shot his wife, Crystal, 35, then committed suicide Saturday at a Gig Harbor shopping center.

Doctors at Harborview Medical Center on Tuesday upgraded Crystal Brame's condition to serious, though she remained in a coma and on life support.

The Brames had been locked in a contentious divorce and, in legal filings, traded accusations of abuse.

Crystal Brame said her husband pointed his gun at her, choked her and threatened to kill her. David Brame alleged his wife beat him, berated him and threatened to ruin his career.

Woodard and City Manager Ray Corpuz met Tuesday to discuss the outside investigation, its scope and which state agency could conduct it.

"We want this to be an open book," said the police department's legal adviser, Thomas Orr. "We need to figure out where things went south."

The review also will cover the police chief search process, as well as promotions within the department, Corpuz said.

"It's hard to change the outcome of what happened Saturday," he said. "(But) based on information we received later, we'll be looking to see if we could have done something."

Though the Brames' allegations became public last week, many in the city and Police Department knew about the couple's contentious divorce, their earlier marital problems and an Internal Affairs investigation concerning a rape allegation against David Brame.

Given that, Woodard and Corpuz want the investigation to focus on:

*The internal investigation into an allegation that Brame raped a woman while the two were on a date in 1988.

The woman filed a complaint with the department in 1989. Investigators said they could not determine whether the assault happened.

Records concerning the complaint were destroyed three years after the investigation. That follows departmental policy set up under an agreement negotiated with Tacoma's police union.

Police officials are searching for someone's personal copy of the investigation, Orr said.

"Somebody kept a copy," he said.

*Brame's two visits in September 1996 to the Gig Harbor police station concerning problems between him and his wife.

According to Gig Harbor Police Chief Mitch Barker, on the first visit, Brame told a sergeant about the couple's marital problems but did not make an abuse allegation or seek official action.

During the conversation, Brame called a friend, a Tacoma police detective who has not been publicly identified. The two talked at the station and then left.

On Sept. 15, 1996, Barker said, Brame again visited the Gig Harbor police station and asked to file an informational report noting a heated argument with Crystal Brame. He made no mention of physical abuse.

Officers took the report but didn't investigate further because no crime had been alleged, Barker said.

"It's not uncommon for people to come in to tell us about marital problems that don't reach the level of a crime," he said.

That level of seriousness is necessary to trigger the state's domestic violence statute. The law requires law enforcement officers to immediately make an arrest when there is evidence of an assault or a person violates a no-contact order.

*Brame's complaints over the years to his closest friends - most of whom are within the department - about abuse by his wife.

Starting in 1996, he talked to then-interim Police Chief Ken Monner and to fellow officer Bill Meeks, according to a declaration Brame filed as part of his divorce.

Brame also asked Meeks to videotape scratches and bruises.

More recently, Brame confided in about a dozen colleagues, including Woodard and Orr, about his contentious divorce, and denied his wife's abuse allegations.

Brame's co-workers also accompanied him to a court hearing and other matters related to the divorce.

For example, Woodard went with Brame the night of April 11 to pick up his two children for the weekend. The children and Crystal Brame were staying at her parents' home in Gig Harbor.

An argument broke out during the visit, and Crystal Brame called 911 to report what happened.

Woodard and Crystal Brame were to have lunch the next week so Crystal could tell Woodard her side concerning the divorce.

Woodard recalled Crystal Brame telling her, "If I was married to the same man you see at work, I'd be a happily married woman."

The lunch never took place, because following the April 11 episode, Orr told Woodard and several other members of department not to accompany Brame on any personal visits dealing with the divorce.

Orr also told Brame not to ask his staff to help him.

Investigators taking part in the upcoming review will:

*Look at how Brame's co-workers handled their dealings with him on his marital problems.

*Review whether officers have a duty to file a report to their commanders when a fellow officer claims to be a victim of abuse.

*Examine the city's police chief search processes, as well as promotions within the department.

In 2001, the city narrowed its list of candidates to four finalists and later to two - Brame and a Cleveland police deputy chief.

Background checks were done only on the external candidates, not Brame.

"If there are any lessons to be learned or any policies to be changed, we'll want to do that," said City Attorney Robin Jenkinson. "That's the goal here."

Staff writer Martha Modeen contributed to this report.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Should She Be Chief? - KOMO Ken Schram Commentary

...[Tacoma Assistant Police Chief, Catherine] Woodard fully understands the dynamics of fear and intimidation and control in domestic violence situations... Finally, I've heard enough about David Brame's illustrious police career, and not nearly enough about the woman who's been left clinging to life after he shot her in the head...

Should She Be Chief?
KOMO
By Ken Schram
April 29, 2003

SEATTLE - Tacoma Police Chief David Brame shot his wife in the head and then killed himself.

The couple's children witnessed the horror in its entirety.

With those facts undisputed, there is then everything else.

Tacoma's interim Police Chief Catherine Woodard is a former domestic violence investigator.

So, why was Woodard in Brame's car when he went to his estranged wife's home to pick up their children on April 11?

Woodard says she was there as a witness and thinking Crystal Brame 'liked' her.

That doesn't wash.

Woodard already knew of the domestic violence allegations at that point.

And as a former investigator, she knows - better than most - that her being with the chief under those circumstances made for a very intimidating presence.

That's because Woodard fully understands the dynamics of fear and intimidation and control in domestic violence situations.

So: What message did Woodard help send to Crystal Brame that day?

If Woodard is too dense not to have realized what her being there meant, maybe she's too dense to be interim chief.

Finally, I've heard enough about David Brame's illustrious police career, and not nearly enough about the woman who's been left clinging to life after he shot her in the head.

By all accounts, Crystal Brame lived in fear while living under her husband's shadow.

If the worst happens, she shouldn't have to die there.

Want to share your thoughts with Ken Schram? You can e-mail him at kenschram@komo4news.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Crystal_Judson/message/22

Monday, April 28, 2003

"Police chief's wife clings to life" - The News Tribune

...Crystal Brame remained in critical condition... "He's let us all down," [Police Union Pat] Frantz said. "He's let the department down. He's let the community down and he's let his family down." Frantz said officers he spoke to Sunday were deeply disappointed in Brame...

POLICE CHIEF'S WIFE CLINGS TO LIFE

Stefano Esposito; The News Tribune
2/28/03

Crystal Brame remained in critical condition Sunday night, a day after her husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, shot her in the head before turning the gun on himself.

As Crystal Brame's family and Tacoma city leaders issued statements asking the public for prayers, investigators released no new details about the double shooting at a Gig Harbor shopping plaza.

"I've not talked to the detectives. We plan on meeting (Monday)," said Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer, whose agency is handling the investigation along with Gig Harbor police.

With the couple's young children nearby, David Brame shot his wife and then shot himself in the parking lot of the Harbor Plaza shopping center.

David Brame, 44, died at St. Joseph Medical Center. Crystal Brame, 35, was taken to St. Joseph and then to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The shootings came a day after details of the Brames' contentious divorce became public. It remained unclear why the couple met in the parking lot Saturday.

City Manager Ray Corpuz released a statement Sunday saying he spoke to David Brame several times during the last two weeks and was aware the police chief was seeking professional counseling for his divorce.

"I have talked to a number of Chief Brame's colleagues, who say there was no indication the chief's personal situation would end like this," Corpuz said. "Most of all, we want to understand how it could happen."

Adding to the mystery, Corpuz said, was that Brame had attended a seminar in Virginia earlier this year in which he learned how officers can handle emotional stress in their lives.

"He was so impressed with the training that he arranged for the instructor to come to Tacoma in March," Corpuz said.

Also Sunday, chaplains were being made available to help police officers deal with the tragedy. Several officers on patrol Sunday would not discuss the incident, saying they had been told not to talk.

But Pat Frantz, president of the union representing the patrol officers, held little back in criticizing Brame.

"He's let us all down," Frantz said. "He's let the department down. He's let the community down and he's let his family down."

Frantz said officers he spoke to Sunday were deeply disappointed in Brame, a relatively young chief who was doing some "fantastic things in community-oriented policing."

In the Brames' North Creek Estates' neighborhood in Gig Harbor, several media-weary residents had nothing to say and asked a reporter and photographer to leave.

One neighbor in the couple's Evergreen-shaded cul-de-sac recalled Crystal Brame as a timid woman about whom he knew almost nothing until April 19.

That day she confided that she finally was free of her controlling husband, said Marty Conmy, a neighbor of the Brames' for about seven years.

Conmy was out doing yard work when he saw Crystal Brame passing by. Uncharacteristically, he said, she wanted to talk about her relationship with her estranged husband, and it came out in a torrent.

"She told me about death threats," Conmy said. "She told me (David Brame) had her in a closet with a loaded gun to her head."

She went on to say her husband controlled every detail of her life, but that the pending divorce had changed that, Conmy said.

"She was making it sound like this guy totally controlled her life and that she was now making a declaration that, 'I can be a normal human being again.' Those were her exact words," Conmy said.

Conmy said the couple wasn't living together at the home at the time, and that it appeared Crystal Brame was there simply to check on the house.

She showed up again Saturday, a few hours before David Brame shot her, said Lillian Conmy, Marty Conmy's wife.

Two other cars were in the driveway besides Crystal Brame's. Her husband's wasn't one of them, said Lillian Conmy, who said she didn't speak with Crystal Brame.

Frantz described Crystal Brame as a "very loving, very caring person."

"I met her on several occasions and saw her at several events," Frantz said.

He said he observed her interaction with her children a few times at the Puyallup Fair, where he saw a devoted mother who was kissing and hugging and caring for her children.

"She would get them food, make sure they got something to eat, and then clean them up after they ate," he said. "She was a very caring mother."

The impact of Saturday's shootings spread far beyond the Tacoma police force and the Brames' immediate neighborhood.

The couple's 5-year-old son, David Brame Jr., attends preschool. His 8-year-old sister, Haley Brame, is in second grade at Discovery Elementary School in Gig Harbor.

"The teachers who have taught Haley for two years are just destroyed by this," said the school's principal, Carolyn Curles.

"Haley is a wonderful little girl and the Brames were conscientious parents who cared very deeply for their children.

"Crystal was very involved with the school and would help in the classroom, reading with the students. The dad was very busy, but he came to school functions."

Staff writers Kris Sherman and Martha Modeen contributed to this report.

Fund for Brame children

Tacoma Police Union Local 6 is setting up a fund for Haley Brame, 8, and David Brame Jr., 5, the children of David and Crystal Brame. The fund should be available for donations today or Tuesday at branches of TAPCO Credit Union. For information, call 253-565-9895 or visit www.cityoftacoma.org.

"TACOMA SHOOTINGS STUN OFFICERS" - Seattle PI

...Domestic-violence experts and others were troubled by comments made by Tacoma city officials the day before the shootings, when they characterized Crystal Brame's allegations of abuse -- raised recently in the couple's divorce proceedings -- as a "personal matter" that would not be investigated. Yet another question revolved around Crystal Brame's last call for law enforcement help...

TACOMA SHOOTINGS STUN OFFICERS
Questions arise on whether chief could have been stopped

Monday, April 28, 2003
By Ruth Teichroeb
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter

As the estranged wife of Tacoma police Chief David Brame struggled for her life yesterday, agonizing questions surfaced about whether anything could have been done to prevent the veteran officer from shooting her.

Stunned city officials and law enforcement officers said they had no warning that the 21-year officer, who became chief in January 2002, would try to kill Crystal Brame, then take his own life.

He shot her in the head with a semiautomatic handgun Saturday afternoon in the parking lot of a Gig Harbor shopping plaza. Their two young children, who were unhurt, sat in his car a few spaces away.

Domestic-violence experts and others were troubled by comments made by Tacoma city officials the day before the shootings, when they characterized Crystal Brame's allegations of abuse -- raised recently in the couple's divorce proceedings -- as a "personal matter" that would not be investigated.

Yet another question revolved around Crystal Brame's last call for law enforcement help. She dialed 911 at 9:51 p.m. April 11, several hours after her husband and another Tacoma Police Department officer visited her at her parents' home. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department did not respond to the call in person -- a departure from most agencies' normal procedure on domestic- violence calls.

"Domestic violence is a criminal matter," said Dottie Davis of Fort Wayne, Ind., an expert on domestic abuse involving police officers. "(David Brame) had the ability as a high-ranking officer to make her think there was no place to hide."

In court papers filed in late March, Crystal Brame expressed fears for her safety, alleging that her husband had pointed a gun at her just before they separated the previous month, and tried to choke her in November. She said he had tried to choke her three other times last year.

Her husband denied those allegations, instead accusing her of attacking him on numerous occasions, citing specific incidents in 1996 and 1998.

Crystal Brame, 35, was reported in critical but stable condition late yesterday in Harborview Medical Center, according to her attorney, Joseph Lombino. Further details were not available.

"We ask that you keep Crystal and the children in your thoughts and prayers," Lombino said.

Victims of domestic violence whose abusers are law enforcement officers have good reason to be frightened -- from worrying that police will minimize their complaints to realizing that the perpetrator can manipulate the legal system, experts say.

Police can track down victims and know the locations of battered women's shelters.

And the wife of a police officer also knows that a conviction for domestic violence or a protection order can end her partner's career and strip the family of income, experts say.

Reporting abuse by a prominent person such as Brame would involve "so much more risk -- and much more to lose," said Linda Olsen, executive director of the Eastside Domestic Violence Program in Bellevue.

Terri Kimball, executive director of Domestic Abuse Women's Network of South King County, noted that David Brame's allegations that his wife abused him, whether true or not, aren't unusual.

"A common tactic of an abuser is to blame his wife," she said. "Certainly, as a police chief, he knew enough about domestic violence to do that."

David Brame said in court papers that he reported privately to other Tacoma police officers, including Bill Meeks, assistant police chief, that his wife had physically assaulted him and Brame feared she'd falsely accuse him of abuse to ruin his career. He asked them not to investigate, even though state law requires that a domestic-violence complaint be pursued if it is credible.

It's not unusual for police officers to be treated differently when they are embroiled in domestic violence, said Davis, the Fort Wayne expert.

"If you went to most law enforcement agencies to complain about domestic violence, let alone that by a high-ranking officer, they would put their heads in the sand," Davis said.

"In this case, she was in a particularly horrible position because he was the chief. She had no one else to call."

David Brame, 44, was pronounced dead at 5:43 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Medical Center, about 2 1/2 hours after the shootings.

The reason behind the couple's meeting that afternoon remains unclear. Brame transferred his children from his wife's car to his, then climbed inside Crystal Brame's Toyota Camry. Moments later, he opened fire with a Glock .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

The attack on Crystal Brame came the day after allegations contained in divorce records were publicized by the Seattle Post- Intelligencer and other media outlets.

City Manager Ray Corpuz, who picked David Brame as chief, said Brame told him recently that he was turning to friends and "seeking professional counseling" to help deal with the divorce.

Crystal Brame had been married to Brame for 11 years. She filed for divorce in February.

"I have talked to a number of Chief Brame's colleagues, who say there was no indication the chief's personal situation would end like this," Corpuz said yesterday in a written statement. "Most of all, we just want to understand how it could happen."

Corpuz called the shooting a tragedy for everyone concerned -- particularly the couple's children, Haley, 8, and David, 5.

The day before the shooting, Corpuz told the P-I that he didn't believe Crystal Brame's allegations were serious enough to warrant an investigation. Before David Brame was appointed chief, his personnel file was reviewed, Corpuz said.

David Seago, editorial page editor of The News Tribune in Tacoma, wrote yesterday that just before Brame became chief, Brame told him that more than a decade ago a girlfriend filed an official complaint accusing him of threatening her with his gun. Brame told Seago he was "exonerated" by the department.

David Brame had been concerned himself about how emotional stress can affect officers, according to Corpuz.

As chief, he arranged special training on the topic and had an instructional guide to "emotional survival" handed out to all officers.

Corpuz said chaplains have been available at police shift meetings to help comfort officers.

"Everybody's just stunned," Meeks said as he drove en route to console Brame's father, Eugene Brame, a former Tacoma officer.

David Brame's older brother and a cousin also are reportedly retired Tacoma police officers, and another brother is a Pierce County sheriff's deputy.

Yesterday, Meeks, who had known David Brame for 20 years, struggled to control his emotions in speaking about his friend.

"I'll have a scar on my heart that will never go away," he said.

Meeks said he and Catherine Woodard, now serving as acting chief, met with officers at the department's operations center yesterday, but did not relate what Woodard told them.

Even though the department is in mourning, he said, officers were out performing their usual patrol duties.

The last time Crystal Brame is known to have called police for assistance was April 11. She dialed 911 at 9:51 p.m. that night from her parents' home in a gated community near Gig Harbor.

Crystal Brame told the 911 dispatcher that she was staying with her parents "for safety reasons" during a divorce, according to a computer record sent to a Pierce County sheriff's deputy that night.

She was upset because her husband had gained entry to the community under "false pretenses" just after 6 p.m., she reported. David Brame was identified as a police chief by the dispatcher, but there is no indication how that was known.

Crystal Brame also reported that David Brame had brought Woodard with him, adding that Woodard was not supposed to be near her "because of intimidation and threats." The record does not explain what those alleged threats were about.

"She also claims to have received death threats," the report concluded.

After the sheriff's deputy received the call, he called his boss, according to Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer.

A sergeant phoned Crystal back to gather more information, and found out that Brame had gone to the house that night to pick up their children for a scheduled visit, Troyer said. "He left. There was no altercation," Troyer said.

The allegation that David Brame used his police badge to get into the community is "not true," because the gates are open until late evening, Troyer said.

He also said she did not indicate that any threats or intimidation had occurred that night, Troyer said.

"We told her that was a civil matter," he said.

Police had no reason to intervene because she had not obtained a no-contact order or protection order that prohibited David Brame from contacting her, Troyer said.

Woodard did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. But Tacoma police officers who contacted the P-I over the weekend questioned the response of the Sheriff's Department, saying they did not follow the standard procedure of going out in person to a domestic-violence call.

King County sheriff's spokesman Kevin Fagerstrom said normal procedure would be to respond in person and take a report to document it.

He said it would not matter if the alleged incident had happened earlier, or that there likely wasn't reason for an arrest, or that the woman's estranged husband was no longer there. "We would always send a car to a DV call -- there's just too much liability not to," Fagerstrom said. "We'll always err on the side of caution."

P-I reporters Hector Castro and Tracy Johnson contributed to this report.

"Challenge, independence of police work attracted acting chief to the profession" - The News Tribune

..."The more I looked into it, the more fascinated I was with the work," Woodard said. "I like things that keep you're blood moving"... "It's tough to fill Dave's shoes," she said. "He was brilliant. He was determined... to do good things for the department, to do creative things for the department"...

CHALLENGE, INDEPENDENCE OF POLICE WORK ATTRACTED ACTING CHIEF TO THE PROFESSION

STACEY MULICK; The News Tribune
Published 12:30AM, April 28th, 2003

Catherine Woodard spent many of her first hours Sunday as Tacoma's acting police chief inside the department's operations center, talking with officers and commanders.

Flanked by the three assistant chiefs, she addressed patrol officers as they started their shifts less than 24 hours after Chief David Brame shot his wife, then committed suicide at a Gig Harbor shopping center.

She asked the officers to watch out for each other.

"We just need to be mindful of each other on the street so no one else gets hurt," Woodard said in an interview. "It's hard for all of us."

City Manager Ray Corpuz appointed Woodard, Brame's ranking assistant chief, as acting chief after Saturday's shootings.

Woodard, 48, has spent her 25-year law enforcement career with the Tacoma Police Department. She most recently was in charge of the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

As acting chief, she's faced with mending a stunned and broken-hearted 400-member department during one of its most difficult points in its history.

"We need a little nurturing at this moment," said Woodard, one of Brame's closer friends. "We need to heal, plus we need to do our work."

Woodard and the three assistant chiefs, William Meeks, Don Ramsdell and Richard McCrea, will meet to discuss the immediate future.

"Right now, it is very important for me to keep us together and to keep us moving forward past this tragic time," said Woodard.

She wants to keep on the path Brame forged after he took office Jan. 14, 2002.

"I've been a part of Dave's team since the day he became chief," Woodard said. "I've shared his vision for enhancing community-oriented policing and his vision for reorganizing to become more effective."

Growing up in Chicago, Woodard didn't think about being a cop. She wanted be an oceanographer and frequently spent time in the water when she went to her grandparents nearby lakeside home. She enjoyed ice skating during the winter and swimming during he summer.

"I was a water baby," she said.

The career path brought her in 1972 to the University of Washington, one of two schools in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in oceanography.

Troubles in math classes altered that career path.

"I flunked calculus," Woodard said. "I retook it and got a C. I realized you needed a lot of math classes to become an oceanographer."

A job locking dorm buildings at night first peeked Woodard's interest in law enforcement. She got to know UW police officers when she picked up the keys for the buildings and became interested in what they did.

The independence, challenge and outdoor work intrigued her. Plus, she didn't need to take as many math classes.

"The more I looked into it, the more fascinated I was with the work," Woodard said. "I like things that keep you're blood moving."

She'd already fallen for the Puget Sound area and decided to look for a police job in the region. She applied to Seattle, the Port of Seattle and Tacoma.

Tacoma moved the quickest and she joined the force in 1977. At the time, few women worked in law enforcement. Woodard was one of five in her academy class.

She worked as an officer on the streets, rode a motorcycle in the traffic division, trained recruits fresh from the police academy and worked with the community as a crime prevention officer.

"In the course of my career, I wanted to do as many things as I could do," Woodard said.

In 1990, she started down a management track with a promotion to sergeant. Six years later, she became a lieutenant and in 1999, then-Chief James Hairston promoted her to captain.

In one of his first actions as chief, Brame made Woodard an assistant chief in 2002. She was the first woman in department history to achieve the rank.

"It brings a balance to the executive staff," Woodard said. "Women typically have different ways of processing things. It brings a different perspective."

Now as the department's interim commander, Woodard said she wants to focus on building and maintaining relationships.

"It's tough to fill Dave's shoes," she said. "He was brilliant. He was determined... to do good things for the department, to do creative things for the department."


Catherine Woodard


Age: 48

Family: Married, with two teenage children

Hometown: Born in Wisconsin and raised in Chicago

Education: Earned a bachelor of arts degree in society and justice from the University of Washington; graduated from the FBI National Academy in September 2001 and received first-line, mid-level and executive-level supervision certificates from the Washington State Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Academy.

Law enforcement career: Hired in 1977 by Tacoma police, was the department's first female motorcycle officer and sergeant, served on a committee Gov. John Spellman organized on street crime and worked as the department's public information officer from 1984 to 1986. Chief David Brame appointed her assistant chief in January 2002.

"Brame appeared under stress but in control" - The News Tribune

..."Dave appeared under some level of stress, but he was in control of his emotions," [Tacoma City Manager Ray] Corpuz said. "We did not discuss his fitness for duty... Police Union Local 6 President Pat Frantz said he thinks psychological evaluations and lie detector tests should be mandatory before any officer's advancement...

BRAME APPEARED UNDER STRESS BUT IN CONTROL, CORPUZ SAYS

Kris Sherman; The News Tribune
April 28th, 2003

Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz said Sunday he spoke with Police Chief David Brame several times about his mounting personal pressures as the chief's marriage spun toward divorce, but never asked whether he was fit for duty.

"Dave appeared under some level of stress, but he was in control of his emotions," Corpuz said. "We did not discuss his fitness for duty.

"I focused on making sure he was getting time off and the help he needed to deal with the issue and (to) ensure it didn't affect the chief's job performance."

Brame, whom Corpuz appointed chief of police 16 months ago, shot his estranged wife, Crystal, in the head and then committed suicide Saturday in a Gig Harbor parking lot.

Though Brame was investigated by the department in 1989 after a complaint was lodged against him, Corpuz said he didn't read Brame's complete personnel file before he appointed the then-43-year-old Tacoma native.

Instead, Corpuz discussed the incident with former Police Chief Ray Fjetland "and was told an investigation concluded the allegation was unfounded."

City officials did some background investigation on outside candidates for the chief's position when Brame was elevated to the post after 20 years as a rising star with the department. No such checks were done on internal applicants, Corpuz said.

Instead, search-team officials relied on department personnel files already in hand.

Corpuz couldn't say Sunday what background checks on external candidates consisted of or whether they included psychological evaluations.

Brame's last psychological evaluation was done when he joined the department in 1981. Such checks routinely are done on new officers.

But even a fresh psychological evaluation of Brame might not have helped, said Elaine Nevins, who coordinates domestic violence programs for the YWCA and has bachelor's degrees in psychology and sociology.

"There's no psychological profile for a perpetrator of domestic violence," she said.

Still, Brame's fatal actions caused some to wonder Sunday whether psychological testing shouldn't be mandatory for police chief candidates.

"I have thought about a psychological test that every officer should take every step that he or she works up through the ranks," Mayor Bill Baarsma said.

"This is something that the city should consider," he added.

Councilman Doug Miller thinks psychological testing for officers moving up the ranks, or possibly periodic psych testing for all cops, might be a good idea.

"You've got people in high-stress jobs who carry weapons and deal with racial issues," he said. "It would be good to know we have a way of identifying a problem before it becomes a big one."

Police Union Local 6 President Pat Frantz said he thinks psychological evaluations and lie detector tests should be mandatory before any officer's advancement.

Although Corpuz will decide how to search for and appoint a new chief, Baarsma said he expects the City Council "to be fully engaged in the process" and hopes to get things moving this week.

Corpuz said it was too early to talk about a replacement for Brame; he would rather focus on helping acting Chief Catherine Woodard get the department stabilized.

And he promised the city will review its process of evaluating candidates for command positions in the police department.

"I'm sure everyone who knew Dave wishes they could have predicted the future and done something to prevent this tragedy from occurring," Corpuz said. "We're all searching our minds to figure out why this happened, and we'll be doing so for some time to come."

Sunday, April 27, 2003

"Police chief dies after shooting wife, himself: Children nearby as David Brame fires twice"


POLICE CHIEF DIES AFTER SHOOTING WIFE, HIMSELF
South Sound tragedy: Children nearby as David Brame fires twice
The News Tribune
LISA KREMER AND KAREN HUCKS; Staff writers Stacey Mulick, Jason Hagey, Bill Hutchens, Kris Sherman, Susan Gordon and C.R. Roberts contributed to this report
April 27, 2003

With his young children nearby, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame shot his wife on Saturday, and then shot himself.

Brame died at 5:43 p.m., 2 1/2 hours after the shootings in a Gig Harbor shopping plaza. His estranged wife, Crystal Brame , was in critical condition late Saturday night at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The shooting occurred after the couple's stormy divorce proceedings became public.

Tacoma police, city officials and the entire South Sound community reeled after hearing that Tacoma's top crime fighter had committed such a horrifying crime. People converged on the scene throughout the evening to mourn and talk about the event.

Seconds after the 3:10 p.m. shooting, the couple's children, in Brame 's car several spaces away, ran to their mother's sedan.

"I heard one of them say, 'Daddy shot Mommy. Daddy hurt Mommy,'" said Dana Mossman, who had come to the plaza to shop for groceries. "I saw this woman lying in a pool of blood."

Another female passer-by carefully pulled 8-year-old Haley Brame from her mother's side, Troyer said. The woman shepherded Haley and her brother, 5-year-old David Brame Jr., into a nearby video store. Their maternal grandmother came quickly to find them there.

Police chaplains staffed the Tacoma Police operations center to offer counseling.

A shocked and distraught City Manager Ray Corpuz could barely comment on Brame 's actions.

"I am not prepared to say anything about this right now," Corpuz said. "It's very tragic what happened. Very tragic what happened."

Assistant chief Catherine Woodard becomes acting chief of police, Corpuz said. She is the first woman to head the Tacoma Police Department.

Brame had been chief since Jan. 14, 2002. He had worked his way up through the ranks of the department, which he joined in 1981.

Crystal Brame , 35, had been married to Brame , 44, for more than 11 years. She started divorce proceedings in February.

On Friday and Saturday, media outlets reported allegations made in divorce court records of mutual physical and verbal abuse. Neither ever filed charges against the other.

The Brames' divorce papers contained references to a difficult relationship. In declarations filed in March and April, Crystal Brame alleged her husband choked her, threatened to kill her, pointed his gun at her and said, "Accidents happen." David Brame alleged his wife physically and verbally abused him and threatened to destroy his career.

Each denied the other's allegations.

Brame denied his wife's allegations Friday afternoon during an off-the-record conversation with David Seago, The News Tribune's editorial page editor.

"I wanted to give Brame a chance to have his say," Seago said. "He did not seem angry. He didn't sound distressed."

Saturday's violent episode was a short one, according to witnesses and Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer.

David Brame met Crystal Brame at about 3 p.m. at the Olympic Plaza shopping center in Gig Harbor. The couple's children arrived in Crystal Brame 's car, a black Toyota Camry.

Investigators don't know why the couple met in the parking lot. They don't believe it was a scheduled meeting to transfer custody of the children, Troyer said.

"We don't know why he was there," Troyer said.

The Brames were living separately in Gig Harbor (the Tacoma police department does not require its officers to live in the city), and David Brame was in the process of moving to a Tacoma apartment.

David Brame , who drove a burgundy Camry, parked about six spaces away and across the aisle from his wife's car. He walked to her car and took the children to his own vehicle. Then he walked back to his wife's car and got inside. They had a short conversation.

He shot Crystal Brame in the head just outside her car at about 3:11 p.m., Troyer said.

Brame immediately shot himself in the head with a Glock .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, Troyer said.

Herron Island resident Ray Lanier, an off-duty King County paramedic, said he found Crystal Brame facedown on the ground in a pool of blood. He tried to help both the Brames breathe.

Both Brames were taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, where David Brame later died. Crystal Brame was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The children visited her there on Saturday evening, Troyer said.

Haley Brame is a second-grader at Discovery Elementary School in Gig Harbor. Counselors will be at the school on Monday to help students and staff, a school spokeswoman said.

People in Gig Harbor were horrified at the news.

"It was a horrible, cowardly thing to do, but he's still a human being who's not living any more," said Mossman, the shopper first on the scene.

A neighbor in North Creek Estates, where the Brames had lived, had heard the news and was crying on her porch early Saturday evening. She wouldn't give her name.

"What about those poor children?" she said.

Gig Harbor police officers, Washington State Patrol investigators and Pierce County sheriff's deputies worked throughout the evening at the scene. The Tacoma Police Department is not involved in the investigation, but sent over a mobile command truck to give detectives on the scene a place to work.

"Their people are hurting. It's a bad day for law enforcement," Troyer said of the Tacoma police force. "Nobody's prepared for this.

"We'll be treating this just like we would any other homicide."

"It's a tragedy for the department and all the officers and the community," said Pat Frantz, president of the union representing patrol officers.

Gig Harbor police are taking the lead on the investigation because the shooting happened within the city limits, Troyer said. Forensic scientists and crime reconstructionists from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department worked with Washington State Patrol investigators.

Sheriff Paul Pastor, who said he had a "close professional relationship" with Brame , announced the chief's death to reporters outside St. Joseph Medical Center early Saturday evening. "This hurts all our hearts terribly," he said.

Acquaintances in the Brames' North Creek Estates neighborhood, not far from the shooting, said David Brame wasn't talkative and the family was private.

Brame was protective of his children, said neighbor Deanna Robson.

"He was always outside with them when they were playing," Robson said. "He made sure they had all kinds of safety gear, even just for riding bikes around the cul-de-sac."

Crystal Brame had talked to neighbors about her marriage, Robson said.

"We knew they were having problems," Robson said. "We knew they weren't together. But this is just awful."

Larry Welty of Gig Harbor was at the shopping plaza after the shootings. He has a son in the Bellevue police department.

"It just kind of shows that police are people like anybody else," Welty said. "They have frailties like everyone else, and the chief has frailties like any of his patrolmen. ... They see things that you and I don't see, and sometimes they can become a little callous."

Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma said Brame had done well in a difficult job.

"He was appointed chief at a point at which the department was going through a very intensive and thorough performance audit, and he was then tasked with the responsibility of carrying out that performance audit," Baarsma said. "That called for some significant changes, and it required his working with the two unions that represent police officers.

"He was doing a tremendous job. It required a tremendous amount of time and effort, and it was very stressful," Baarsma said.

- - -

Staff writers Stacey Mulick, Jason Hagey, Bill Hutchens, Kris Sherman, Susan Gordon and C.R. Roberts contributed to this report.

Lisa Kremer: 253-597-8658

lisa.kremer@mail.tribnet.com

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660

karen.hucks@mail.tribnet.com

"A police chief's incomprehensible, bewildering crime" - The News Tribune

...Brame exuded competence, was good at dealing with people, held the respect of fellow officers. An extraordinary officer. Distinguished... This shooting leaves many questions to be answered. Perhaps Brame's personal problems - obviously deep and serious - should have been detected when he was being evaluated for the chief's position. Perhaps more help should be extended to police officers struggling with marital stresses of this magnitude...

A police chief's incomprehensible, bewildering crime

The News Tribune
April 27th, 2003

"Shock" hardly begins to express our reaction to David Brame's shooting of his wife, Crystal, and his own suicide Saturday afternoon.

Almost anyone who knew the Tacoma police chief professionally - and that includes the editorial board of The News Tribune - would have, before Saturday, vouched for his character, his devotion to police work and his concern for the city he served.

Brame exuded competence. He was good at dealing with people. He held the respect of his fellow officers. It didn't hurt that he was a native Tacoman, a product of the East Side, a second-generation police officer.

When he was sworn in as chief a year ago January, Crystal pinned the new badge on his uniform while their two young children watched. No one then could have imagined Saturday's horrifying sequel, when Brame shot his wife and then himself in the parking lot of a Gig Harbor strip mall - with their children at the scene.

Police work is notoriously stressful and notoriously hard on marriages. This was Brame's second marriage, and it was apparently turning ugly even as he assumed the pressures of his new job.

Their divorce proceedings - sensationalized Friday on the front page of a Seattle newspaper - brought to public view her allegations that he had threatened to kill her. He in turn claimed that Crystal had a "ferocious" temper and had repeatedly physically attacked him. Whatever had been happening in their marriage, his anger erupted uncontrollably Saturday. The waste of life, the trauma to their children, the grief of their loved ones, are almost too terrible to contemplate.

Nearly any death is loosely described as "tragic" nowadays, but this was a tragedy in the classical sense: a fine police officer, even an extraordinary one, unleashing deadly force against his wife while in the grip of a literally fatal personal flaw.

To all appearances - at least before Saturday - Brame was no psychopath or beer-swilling wife-beater. He seemed a peace officer genuinely devoted to criminal justice, to public safety, to the protection of the innocent, to strict control of the lethal force society entrusts to the police.

These values defined his career. He had distinguished himself in his commitment to them. Yet the final act of his life was an explosion of homicidal rage that repudiated everything he had sworn to uphold. It was a crime fraught with horrifying irony.

This shooting leaves many questions to be answered. Perhaps Brame's personal problems - obviously deep and serious - should have been detected when he was being evaluated for the chief's position. Perhaps more help should be extended to police officers struggling with marital stresses of this magnitude.

And some news organizations would do well to look long and hard at the way they handled this story.

But all that can wait a few days. At the moment, we can only grieve a crime that has devastated two families and left an entire city stunned and bewildered.

"Tacoma police chief dies after shooting wife, self" - The Seattle Times

...David Brame denied all of his wife's allegations, and said she had a "ferocious temper" that manifested itself in physical attacks, constant verbal abuse and threats to "drag him through the mud" and ruin his police career. But Crystal Brame's longtime friends aren't buying any of the police chief's allegations, especially now that he shot her....

Tacoma police chief dies after shooting wife, self

Seattle Times
Sunday, April 27, 2003

Tacoma Police Chief David Brame died yesterday after he shot his 35-year-old estranged wife and himself in a strip-mall parking lot in Gig Harbor, Pierce County.

Brame, 44, was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma where he died shortly before 6 p.m. yesterday.

His wife, Crystal, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where she was in extremely critical condition last night with a bullet wound in the head.

The couple's two young children were in the parking lot at the time of shooting, but it wasn't immediately known if they witnessed the violence.

Brame and his wife were in the parking lot to exchange the children from one parent to the other. The couple had been going through a contentious divorce, with allegations of abuse from both sides.

Crystal Brame did not have a protective order against her husband, according to police and court records. Though there was a standard restraining order that protected the couple's assets during the divorce, she had said in divorce documents that she had chosen not to obtain a no-contact order, against the advice of her lawyer.

About 3:10 p.m. yesterday, Brame pulled into the mall parking lot to meet his wife, who had arrived in her car with the couple's 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. Brame put the children in his car, then returned to his wife's car, got in the passenger seat, then fired his gun twice.

Brame was found in the passenger seat with a fatal head wound. His wife had climbed out of the car before collapsing on the pavement.

A witness, Gary Pullin, 41, of Gig Harbor, was waiting in his car for his wife, Mary, to get off work at a business in the shopping center. As his wife was getting into their car, he heard two gunshots. The scene that followed was chaos.

Pullin told his wife to get in the car. As the couple drove off, Pullin realized he had been parked only four stalls from where the shots were fired. He then stopped his car.

"She was on her back, and there was blood everywhere. ... I watched her move her hand up to her head," Pullin said.

Pullin said he then saw a woman quickly herd the children away from the scene. He also saw a bystander pick up the handgun and then make a call on his cellphone. Many other people were screaming and running from the parking lot.

Bystanders hurried the Brame children into a video store in the mall to wait for police.

At the time of the shootings, the Brames were three months into a bitter divorce, with each making claims and counterclaims against the other.

For example, Crystal Brame alleged that she was "very afraid" of her husband because he was controlling and threatening - pointing a gun at her, keeping the couple's checkbook from her, insisting on going with her to routine doctor exams and checking her car odometer to make sure she had not strayed from permitted errands.

David Brame denied all of his wife's allegations, and said she had a "ferocious temper" that manifested itself in physical attacks, constant verbal abuse and threats to "drag him through the mud" and ruin his police career.

But Crystal Brame's longtime friends aren't buying any of the police chief's allegations, especially now that he shot her.

"If you wanted a mom, Crystal would be the perfect one," said Brad Chatfield, a state Senate employee from Olympia who is a lifelong friend. "She's one of the most thoughtful people I've ever met."

Brame's allegations "are categorically not true," Chatfield said. "That's not in her character. She doesn't have the capacity for that kind of anger and violence. She was not the one with the gun. She was not the supposedly trained police chief."

Crystal Brame, nee Judson, grew up in Tacoma and graduated from Mount Tahoma High School. She attended the University of Washington, where she studied criminal justice, her friends said.

Right out of college, she got a job working for the Tacoma Police Department and the local courts. That's when she met David Brame, a rising star in the department who had been divorced from his first wife since 1987.

After they married, she quit her job to stay home to raise the couple's children, friends said.

"She gave up everything for her children and for David," Chatfield said. "And that's why this is so shocking."

According to a Pierce County Sheriff's Department police-dispatch report, Crystal Brame called a sheriff's dispatch center the night of April 11 to allege that four hours earlier David Brame, accompanied by Assistant Police Chief Catherine Woodard, who was named last night to serve as acting chief of the department, came to Crystal's parents' home in the gated Canterwood neighborhood of Gig Harbor.

According to Crystal Brame's report, she was living at her parents' home "for safety reasons." She alleged that Brame and Woodard gained access to the secure neighborhood "under false pretenses." She told the police dispatcher that Woodard was not supposed to "be near her" because of "intimidation and threats."

Sheriff's spokesman Troyer said the dispatcher did not send an officer to the residence because Crystal Brame had called hours after the chief and his assistant had left, and she had no proof that Woodard or Chief Brame had threatened or intimidated her.

Crystal Brame didn't have a court order forbidding either her husband or Woodard from contacting her, and Chief Brame had simply come to the residence to pick up the children for a planned weekend visit, Troyer said. Under terms of their separation, he was supposed to bring along another adult when he contacted his wife, so he brought his assistant chief.

Tacoma police spokesman Jim Mattheis last night said Crystal Brame's allegations of threats by Woodard weren't true, and the department wouldn't discuss the matter. "There's been enough damage done already," Mattheis said.

David Brame, who was named Tacoma's police chief in late 2001, was described as a trusted insider committed to Tacoma, someone who could build bridges between the department and the community.

The Tacoma native had been assistant police chief before being named chief. He also had served as commander of the criminal investigations division and headed up the department's internal-affairs division.

For six years, Brame was chief contract negotiator for the police union, representing patrol officers.

He earned a bachelor degree in public administration from the University of Puget Sound.

The shootings came a day after media reports about the Brames' bitter separation.

"I blame the news media for driving this over the edge above and beyond what you needed to in a tabloid fashion," said Patrick Frantz, president of Tacoma's police union.

Frantz said Brame was "a dynamite chief" who was implementing new policies and making good connections with the community.

The stress of being a police chief and the publicity of his marital troubles must have come to a head, Frantz surmised. "I'm not saying he's not responsible. I'm very disappointed in what he's done," he said.

"He's let the department down. He's let the community down."

Seattle Times staff reporters Pamela Sitt, Ian Ith, J.J. Jensen, Sarah Anne Wright, Christine Clarridge and Marsha King contributed to this report.

"Shootings followed reports in media" - The News Tribune

...The incident occurred a day after allegations of abuse in the couple's divorce case were publicized in media reports. "That's not newsworthy, but that's not for me to call," said Officer Pat Frantz, president of Local 6.... "I believe that the media had a lot to do with this."...

Shootings followed reports in media

Aaron Corvin; The News Tribune
April 27th, 2003

It happened in 1988 when a Seattle judge killed himself. It happened in 1996 when the nation's top Navy officer committed suicide.

And it happened again Saturday afternoon when Tacoma's police chief killed himself.

A public official under scrutiny from the media takes his own life.

Tacoma Police Chief David Brame killed himself after shooting his wife, Crystal, in a Gig Harbor parking lot. The incident occurred a day after allegations of abuse in the couple's divorce case were publicized in media reports.

"That's not newsworthy, but that's not for me to call," said Officer Pat Frantz, president of Local 6, the union that represents police officers and sergeants. "I believe that the media had a lot to do with this."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published details of the divorce case Friday, including an erroneous report that Brame's wife had obtained a temporary restraining order against him.

In fact, there were mutual restraining orders that prevented either party only from taking the children out of state, selling assets or changing insurance policies.

The story set off a flurry of media coverage.

Asked to comment on the story, Ken Bunting, executive editor of the P-I, made this statement: "This is a tragic development in lives that, from all accounts, have been troubled for quite some time. These events are not only painful for the family, but for the community and all who have the responsibility to ask the difficult questions about it. Domestic violence is never a comfortable topic."

The News Tribune published a story Saturday. An alternative local online publication - The New Takhoman - had published its own account Tuesday.

Tacoma Councilman Doug Miller said he believes the publicity surrounding the circumstances of Brame's divorce may have made the chief snap.

It would be "very difficult for any individual for something that painful to be played out in the public eye," Miller said.

Miller said members of the media ought to recognize that what they say can be detrimental. He believes Brame felt "branded for life" and reacted irrationally.

"I'm not making excuses for what he apparently did, but it would be an explanation," Miller said.

Edward Inch, chairman of the communication department at Pacific Lutheran University, said he doubted news coverage pushed Brame over the edge.

"The issue about whether it can push someone over really depends on a lot of factors," Inch said. "Odds are that the media by itself would not push someone over."

Inch said the media go too far when they report on things that have no meaning for "public or social policies" or "just to pry into someone's life."

Inch noted that divorces and the legal proceedings that follow are part of the public record.

John Hathaway, bartender and lane manager at Lincoln Lanes, reported the divorce case in The New Takhoman under the heading, "Tacoma Confidential: Off the Record, on the QT, and very confidential."

"I've got the entire court file," he said. "I will not print one thing unless I have the paperwork to back it up. That's just my ethics."

Aaron Corvin: 253-552-7058
aaron.corvin@mail.tribnet.com

"Council responds with sadness, praise for 'stellar' chief" - The News Tribune

...[Councilmember] Lonergan noticed a difference in Brame's demeanor over the past couple of weeks. "He was quieter, more solemn than I was accustomed to," he said. "There was no banter. He looked like he was losing some sleep."...

Council responds with sadness, praise for 'stellar' chief

The News Tribune
Kris Sherman and Susan Gordon
April 27th, 2003

As a shocked city coped with the news that its police chief shot his wife and killed himself, Tacoma City Council members grieved for all involved and wondered how it could happen to a "stellar" law enforcement officer.

"It's a sad day for the city. It's an absolute tragedy for that family. And it's personally devastating to me," said Mayor Bill Baarsma, a longtime friend of Brame and his family.

"It's one of those things where you say to yourself, 'This can't be happening. This can't be happening.' There is an absolute sense of feeling helpless."

Tacoma's council members described Brame as a Tacoma boy made good, a native son who did his family and his city proud by studying public administration at the University of Puget Sound, then rising through the ranks of the Tacoma Police Department to its pinnacle.

Although the city manager hires the chief, the council sets policy.

Council members credited Brame with assuming the top cop job at a time when morale was low in the department and instantly raising its credibility and the spirits of its officers.

"You'd see police officers out there walking around with smiles on their faces," said Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg. "It looked like they wanted to be working. He would come to us and advocate more money for them. He really stood up for them."

Several council members said they knew Brame was bothered by the publicity surrounding his divorce, the animosity brought to light and its possible effect on his job.

"We all felt he was an excellent choice for police chief," said Councilman Mike Lonergan. "Now we know there was a lot churning under the surface."

Councilman Doug Miller saw a police chief "who must have been emotionally and physically drained."

"He was a very good police chief," Miller added. "Tacoma has suffered a great loss."

Councilman Kevin Phelps echoed his colleagues' comments about Brame's professionalism and dedication as chief and said Brame "made a night-and-day difference in the department."

But Phelps, who recently spoke to the chief about his divorce, had no inkling of events to unfold.

"I couldn't have seen this coming in a million years," Phelps added. "I never saw a short temper from Dave. I can't recall seeing him ever raise his voice. In my mind, he just snapped."

Phelps said he tried to reassure Brame when he talked with the chief about his pending divorce about a week ago and tried to convince Brame that the bitterness of the divorce would eventually pass.

"I had no clue I was talking to someone who was this distraught," Phelps said.

Councilmen Phelps and Rick Talbert said they were most upset about the impact of the shooting on Brame's children, who are 8 and 5 years old.

Council members were reluctant to talk much about the future of the city's police department.

Catherine Woodard will do a fine job as acting chief, Councilwoman Sharon McGavick said. One of Brame's greatest accomplishments as chief was promoting more women and minorities into positions of responsibility, she said.

But all the council members said they knew tough days lie ahead for the department.

When asked how the Brame shooting reflects on Tacoma's choice of police chief, Lonergan rephrased the question. Instead, he said he would ask, "Did the city manager make thorough enough checks before making the appointment? That's a good question."

At this point, Lonergan said he can't answer that. But, in the future, the council needs to make sure not only that prospective candidates are thoroughly screened, but also that the city manager provides assistance when needed, he said.

"I don't know that there was any inkling that what happened today was likely to happen," Lonergan said. "But (Brame) clearly was troubled."

Lonergan noticed a difference in Brame's demeanor over the past couple of weeks.

"He was quieter, more solemn than I was accustomed to," he said. "There was no banter. He looked like he was losing some sleep."

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659 kris.sherman@mail.tribnet.com Susan Gordon: 253-597-8756
susan.gordon@mail.tribnet.com

Brame, Brame, Brame, "Tacoma native son rose quickly" - The News Tribune

...Police, family ties: Joined Tacoma Police Department in 1981, following his father, Eugene; an older brother, Eugene Jr.; and his cousin, Doug, all of whom have retired from department. Brame's other brother, Dan, is a Pierce County sheriff's deputy...

Tacoma native son rose quickly, known for focus, determination

STACEY MULICK; The News Tribune
April 27th, 2003

On the day of Tacoma Police Chief David Brame's swearing-in ceremony, his wife, Crystal, pinned on his badge as their two children watched.

Saturday, 15 months later, the four were together again when Brame shot his wife and then committed suicide.

The two gunshots cut short the career of an East Side native, a second-generation cop who quickly rose through the ranks. He wore only one uniform in his 21-year career - that of the Tacoma Police Department.

"He was firmly on that path to become an outstanding chief," said officer Pat Frantz, president of the union that represented nearly 300 patrol officers, detectives and sergeants under Brame's command.

Brame was also a 44-year-old man under strain from a contentious divorce that became public in news reports Friday.

Crystal Brame had accused her husband of pointing his gun at her, of choking her several times and of threatening to kill her.

However, those who knew Brame in his professional life said he was a focused and determined leader. Many said they'd never seen a violent side to him.

"I never saw him angry," said Tacoma neighborhood activist Ginny Eberhardt. "I never saw anything like that."

Brame was at the pinnacle of his career.

He was a man of action. After becoming chief Jan. 14, 2002, he quickly moved to revive an often embattled department. He'd been formulating his plans for years as he rose through the department's three bureaus.

In his first months as chief, his definition of long term was six months.

Among other things, he emphasized community-oriented policing and created a bureau to raise and enforce standards of conduct for officers.

He also demanded his command staff follow his lead and attend neighborhood meetings and ride with the patrol officers. The moves helped raise morale and refurbish the department's image.

"He worked with the employees rather than against the employees," Frantz said.

He expected nothing but the best from his officers and command staff, colleagues said.

"Our badge of office is a symbol of public faith," Brame wrote in a memo to the department June 26, 2002, "and we have willingly accepted it, through our oath of office, as a public trust. We maintain this public trust as long as we are true to the ethics of our police service."

Brame often told jokes and didn't like the formal title of chief. He preferred to be called Dave or D.A., for David Allen.

"He would always stop and talk," said Eberhardt, a member of the West End Neighborhood Council. "He listened if someone had something to say."

Policing was in Brame's life from the day he first knew what his dad did. Born and raised on the city's East Side, he was the son of Tacoma police officer Eugene Brame.

He was athletic, playing baseball and later basketball on Lincoln High School's 1975 championship men's team.

"He was a totally class act," said childhood friend, Carlos Sombrano, 44, of Puyallup.

Brame attended the University of Puget Sound, where he took classes from Bill Baarsma, now Tacoma's mayor.

Brame graduated from with a bachelor's degree in public administration, then joined the police department in 1981. His older brother, Eugene Jr., and a cousin, Doug, already were working with his father on the force.

As a patrol officer he was praised for his professionalism and for his presentations on crime issues to local businesses.

His file includes commendations for street arrests, community efforts and good judgment.

His career also included an Internal Affairs investigation in the late 1980s after a complaint was lodged against him. Ray Fjetland, who was chief at the time, has declined to explain the complaint but said it was unfounded.

Brame got his dream assignment Dec. 28, 2001, when he was named Tacoma's 46th police chief.

"I've lived and breathed the Tacoma Police Department my entire life," he said at the time.

Brame modeled his administrative style after Fjetland, a popular leader among the rank-and-file for his approachable nature.

"He just really seemed to be on top of what the people needed," Eberhardt said. "It just seemed he brought everybody together and made them happier."

Staff writers Susan Gordon and Kris Sherman contributed to this report. Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268 stacey.mulick@mail.tribnet.com

David Allen Brame

Born: July 28, 1958; died April 26, 2003

Family: Married to Crystal Brame for more than 11 years; two children, ages 5 and 8. His wife filed for divorce in late February; they were living separately in Gig Harbor. It was his second marriage. His parents still live on Tacoma's East Side.

Brame's early years: Born-and-reared East Side Tacoman; played on 1975 championship Lincoln High School basketball team.

Police, family ties: Joined Tacoma Police Department in 1981, following his father, Eugene; an older brother, Eugene Jr.; and his cousin, Doug, all of whom have retired from department. Brame's other brother, Dan, is a Pierce County sheriff's deputy.

Education: Earned bachelor's degree in public administration from the University of Puget Sound; graduated from FBI National Academy and received first-line, midlevel and executive-level supervision certificates from Washington State Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Academy.

Law enforcement career: Chief since January 2002, succeeding James Hairston. Originally hired by department in 1981, moved up ranks and served in all divisions. Served as vice president of Local 6 for six years and negotiated contracts for union. Captain of Criminal Investigations Division when Trang Dai massacre occurred in 1998. Hairston appointed him assistant chief in 1999.

Accomplishments: Brame created the Professional Responsibility Bureau aimed at increasing professionalism of officers and department's public image. The bureau conducts Internal Affairs investigations, coordinates racial profiling task force and focuses on high-risk police policies, such as use of force, high-speed pursuits and civil rights complaints. He also broke up the traffic unit, assigned motorcycle officers to each sector, added a community-liaison officer to each sector and formed a task force to increase applicants for 30 open patrol positions.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Editorial ";...Mrs. Brame's accusation hangs in the air..."

CITY MANAGER CAN'T IGNORE BRAME CASE
Serious allegations of misconduct have been made against Tacoma Police Chief David Brame by his estranged wife
The News Tribune
Published 12:30AM, April 26th, 2003

Serious allegations of misconduct have been made against Tacoma Police Chief David Brame by his estranged wife.

At this point, the most important thing the citizens of Tacoma should keep in mind is that Brame's wife, Crystal, recently made the allegations in the context of a messy, bitter divorce case. In such cases, spouses often trade nasty, unfounded accusations.

No one knows whether the allegations against Brame are true. Crystal Brame has not filed a formal complaint against Brame with the police department or city officials. The two sides are trading accusations within the confines of a civil divorce proceeding. Chief Brame denies his wife's allegations. So far, it is a murky "she said, he said" situation.

The diffficulty of ascertaining the truth is why we only now come to the details of Mrs. Brame 's allegations. She claims in court papers that last fall, Brame physically abused her by attempting to choke her. She also alleged that Brame pointed his service revolver at her last month and said, "Accidents happen." Brame , in turn, accuses his wife of physically attacking him in earlier incidents and claims he has photos of his injuries to prove it.

Brame 's boss, City Manager Ray Corpuz, says the dispute is a civil matter; he sees no reason to get involved. Corpuz is wrong.

Tacoma's police chief has been accused of criminal conduct: threatening his wife with a weapon and physically abusing her. It is true that Mrs. Brame has filed no formal complaints against her husband, nor has she sought an official protective order common in domestic violence cases. She sought only a temporary restraining order of the type that is routinely granted in hostile divorce cases. She seeks financial support and the use of the family home, among other things.

Nonetheless, Mrs. Brame 's accusation leaves a cloud hanging over the city's top law enforcement officer. The divorce case may drag on for months. Corpuz should ask another law enforcement agency to investigate her allegations.

There may well be no way to resolve who is telling the truth. An investigation could be inconclusive. That sort of finding may be the closest Chief Brame will ever come to clearing his name.

This is horrible for the Brame family, having the breakup of their marriage played out in the public eye. It is terrible for their two children, ages 5 and 8. We wish we didn't have to know.

But Mrs. Brame 's accusation hangs in the air. The city manager and the citizens of Tacoma can't ignore it. Investigate. It is the fairest thing to do, not only for Brame and his wife, but also for the citizens who can only be bewildered and dismayed by this turn of events.

Memo: DS
Edition: South Sound
Section: Editorial/Opinion
Page: B05
Index Terms: Local/State; Editorial, TNT
Record Number: 2003TNT291769B05
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence (IPV) abuse law enforcement public safety fatality fatalities lethal murder suicide teflon washingtonstate jail]

Email: Dave we support you & we don't believe Crystal

Lt. Michael Miller a couple of hours before the shooting:

"Dave...I am writing to let you know that I consider the allegations of your physical abusiveness and threats to be patently false. It is beyond my comprehension that you would do such things... You should also know that every one that I have heard make mention of these matters has been similarly supportive. You have a lot of friends and, perhaps equally as important, a lot of co-workers, who believe in the example you have set over the years and are proud to stand up on your behalf..."

"City won't investigate police chief" - The News Tribune

...[City Manager Ray] Corpuz said, "I'm not interested in investigating any civil proceedings that he is going though at this time. ... There haven't been any discussions (about an investigation) or complaints from within the department." Mayor Bill Baarsma said he did not want to comment on Brame's personal life, but added, "The professional end of Dave's relationship with the city has been absolutely stellar."...

City won't investigate police chief
The News Tribune
STACEY MULICK
April 26th, 2003

Tacoma city officials will not investigate allegations of abuse raised in Tacoma Police Chief David A. Brame's now public divorce.

Brame's wife, Crystal, made the accusations in a declaration filed as part of the divorce, which she started in February after more than 11 years of marriage.

In later legal filings, Brame and his wife have traded accusations of physical and verbal abuse. Each has denied the other's charges in paperwork filed in King County Superior Court.

Neither has filed a police report alleging physical abuse or gotten any no-contact or protection orders.

However, as a routine part of the divorce actions, the Brames are under mutual restraining orders, which prohibit either from disposing of property, removing their two children from the state or from changing insurance policies.

Friday, the couple's allegations against each other were publicized by a Seattle newspaper, television and radio stations.

Asked about Brame, City Manager Ray Corpuz said, "I'm not interested in investigating any civil proceedings that he is going though at this time... There haven't been any discussions (about an investigation) or complaints from within the department."

Mayor Bill Baarsma said he did not want to comment on Brame's personal life, but added, "The professional end of Dave's relationship with the city has been absolutely stellar."

Brame, 44, and the attorney for his 35-year-old wife declined to comment Friday.

In a declaration filed March 26, Crystal Brame alleged her husband pointed his gun at her and said, "Accidents happen." She also claimed he choked her and threatened to kill her at their Gig Harbor home.

In a declaration filed in April, Brame denied he pointed his gun at his wife, choked her or threatened her.

"At no time have I ever laid a hand on Mrs. Brame," Brame wrote. "These are all complete fabrications."

In the same declaration, he alleged his wife physically and verbally abused him for several years and threatened to destroy his career.

Crystal Brame, in a second declaration, denied David Brame's claims.

She said no adult witnessed the incidents she alleged. Her mother filed a statement, stating she heard David Brame say "he would not give (his wife) or the children a dollar, that he would see her dead first."

In his document, David Brame said he had photos of bruises he contends his wife inflicted on him.

He also said he talked to Gig Harbor police in September 1996 about the couple's domestic disputes. Gig Harbor Police Chief Mitch Barker confirmed the contact Friday and said an informational report was filed.

The marriage is Brame's second. His first ended in 1987 after he and his first wife agreed the marriage "irretrievably broken."

Retired Tacoma Police Chief Ray Fjetland said Friday that Internal Affairs investigated Brame, then a patrol officer, in the late 1980s after a complaint was filed against him.

Fjetland declined to give further details about the allegation but said it was unfounded.

He later promoted Brame twice, first to sergeant and then to lieutenant.

"I would look at his complete law enforcement history when there was promotion," Fjetland said. "I did not consider it to be detrimental to his performance as a police officer or to his character."

Brame, born and raised on the East Side, has been chief since January 2002. He joined the Tacoma police in 1981.

Staff writer Kris Sherman contributed to this report. Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268 stacey.mulick@mail.tribnet.com

Friday, April 25, 2003

"Tacoma police chief's wife says he pointed a gun at her" - Seattle PI

...A Gig Harbor police report indicates that Brame told an officer on Sept. 15, 1996, that his wife had been "verbally hostile" but that he had "not used physical force of any kind" on her. He said he was worried she might make "false allegations" of abuse... "I do remain very afraid of my husband," she said in a court declaration.

Tacoma police chief's wife says he pointed a gun at her

David Brame denies allegations, says it was she who abused him
By Ruth Teichroeb
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter
Friday, April 25, 2003

The wife of Tacoma police Chief David Brame has accused him in court documents of pointing his service revolver at her and trying to choke her during two separate incidents in the past six months.

Brame, a veteran officer who rose through the ranks to become chief in January 2002, denied those allegations in court papers filed in King County Superior Court last month.

He maintained he was the real victim of domestic violence during his 11-year marriage. His wife, Crystal, filed for divorce two months ago.

As evidence of his wife's volatility, Brame, 44, claimed his wife scratched, bruised and pushed him during two altercations in September 1996.

Brame said he reported the assaults to police -- first to his boss, then-interim Chief Ken Monner, and to an officer who photographed his bruises; then to police in Gig Harbor, where he was living at the time.

Both times Brame insisted that police not arrest his wife or even investigate his allegations -- even though a state law requires officers to arrest anyone accused of domestic violence if the complaint is credible.

He explained his unusual behavior in court documents by saying he wanted to "protect himself" in case his wife ever tried to malign him with false abuse allegations.

Brame refused to comment yesterday, as did his wife's attorney.

Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz, who hired Brame, cautioned that accusations made during a contested divorce must still be proven.

"He's doing a great job," Corpuz said. "I'm not interested in exploring David's personal life at this time."

Mayor Bill Baarsma, who sits on the City Council's public safety committee, was surprised at the allegations but said they were a "private matter."

"He's been an outstanding chief," Baarsma said. "Unless there's a complaint filed with the city manager as to his performance, I'm not prepared to comment."

There are discrepancies between Brame's version of events and what Gig Harbor Police Chief Mitch Barker said yesterday his officers recall and records indicate.

While Brame visited Gig Harbor police twice in September 1996, Barker said Brame was "vague" about his marital problems and did not report any physical assault by his wife.

"If someone comes in and says they've been assaulted by a domestic partner, we have an obligation to investigate," Barker said.

A Gig Harbor police report indicates that Brame told an officer on Sept. 15, 1996, that his wife had been "verbally hostile" but that he had "not used physical force of any kind" on her. He said he was worried she might make "false allegations" of abuse.

Thirteen days later, Brame appeared again at the Gig Harbor police station, this time telling an officer that he'd had an altercation with his wife but that "nothing happened," according to Barker.

Refusing to say more, Brame phoned a Tacoma detective who met privately with him at the Gig Harbor police station, Barker said.

In court papers, Crystal Brame, 35, portrayed her husband as controlling and jealous, refusing to let her use their credit card without permission and checking her car's odometer to monitor trips to the grocery store.

She also accused him of leaving his loaded service revolver on a bedroom shelf within reach of their two children.

Her fear increased last November when she alleged that Brame "choked me and threatened that he could snap my neck if he wanted to." It was the fourth time that year he'd tried to choke her, each time sending flowers later to apologize, she said.

And just before they separated in February, she alleged in court documents that Brame pointed his service revolver at her, "telling me 'accidents happen.' "

She did not report either incident to police.

Fearing Brame's reaction and wanting to protect his career, his wife said she filed for divorce in South King County, and did not ask for a restraining order even though her attorney urged her to do so.

She claims her husband's continued threats prompted her to seek a temporary restraining order on March 26.

"I do remain very afraid of my husband," she said in a court declaration.

A hearing on the restraining order scheduled for last week in Kent was canceled after a motion was filed to move the case to Pierce County Superior Court.

In court papers, Brame blamed his wife's "ferocious temper" and emotional instability for the abuse, noting his embarrassment at being victimized by someone who is just over 5 feet tall and weighs 105 pounds. Brame is 6-foot-1 and weighs 175 pounds.

"As hard as it is to believe and as ashamed as I am of this fact, Mrs. Brame has physically abused me for a number of years, often in the presence of the children," Brame said.

He recalled his frustration as a police officer when domestic violence victims refused to cooperate with police.

"Now, I see that I have become the very victim who frustrated me all those years," Brame said.

But he denied pointing his revolver at his wife or choking her, saying that he was "scrupulously careful" to defend himself in the least aggressive manner when she attacked him.

Phone message Crystal left the day before her murder

"...And I still have a great concern, a greater concern now for my personal safety now more than ever..."

Transcript of the phone message Crystal left April 25, the day before her murder, left on the voice mail of her psychologist, Dr. Max Knauss:


"Dr. Knauss, this is Crystal Brame. If you could give me a call when you are available. It's about 4:35 on Friday afternoon. I was told you probably not in, that you weren't in today.

If, when you get this message, if you could call me I would appreciate it. Uh, if you would call my parents' number at (phone number), I would greatly appreciate it. I need to discuss with you some recent things that have happened and, uh, at least to let you know.

Also in today's paper, if you do have copies or can get a copy of the Seattle P-I and on the Internet and nwcn.com for Northwest Cable News.

(Cough) Excuse me. Pardon me.

I got (unintelligible) into Northwest News and the article.

David had called me just last night and he'd hung up on me two times, uh, stated he would trash me in the newspapers and that's exactly - these articles are not very, um, flattering to say the least.

But anyway, uh, it is in the newspaper now and he has told me and warned me that he hasn't even begun yet, that I haven't seen anything yet. So I do still have concerns, since the restraining order is not in place yet. Um, his attorney is back East and they need a representative apparently to be at the courthouse with Joe, won't return calls. So Joe was not be able to enter anything in the way of the personal restraining order.

So, I'll be back and forth still at my home. I need to stay there a few nights. I have to establish that I am living there.

And I still have a great concern, a greater concern now for my personal safety now more than ever.

Um, anyway, if you could call me at your convenience I would really appreciate it. Again, try my parents' number at (phone number) or my mom's cell phone at (phone number). Um, and I would just - I'll look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend. Thank you so much.

Goodbye."

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

First public word of David & Crystal turbulance [New Takhoman]

"...While Tacoma Police Chief Dave Brame frolics amongst the glitz and glamour of "Sin City", Las Vegas, Nevada, at TPD's expense, his estranged wife is trying to put her life back together... there are accusations of requested sexual favors, group encounters of threesomes and foursomes, a loaded service weapon left within the children's reach and death threats..."

Tacoma Confidential

New Takhoman
April 22, 2003

OVER the opening strains of "Tacoma my kind of town is," a MONTAGE: a mixture of headlines, television coverage and live action. Downtown Booming! Post Iraq War Optimism! Tacoma: America’s No. 1 Wired City! But most prominent among them: ESTRANGED WIFE BUSTS CHIEF OF POLICE! T.V. reporters document crime scenes. Police cars, sirens blaring, race through Tacoma's pothole strewn streets. Where will it end?

CITY MANGER: (V.O.) Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future of Tacoma! David A. Brame your new Police Chief.

MAYOR: We're selling an image, gentlemen. A Beautiful waterfront. Affordable housing. Trouble-free transportation. And the best police department in the world to keep it all running smoothly.

INTERIOR: Office of Tacoma Confidential.

Lurid page one headlines cover the wall where Paul Malone types. The essence of sleaze, Malone is the publisher-photographer-writer of Tacoma Confidential, keeper of inside dirt supreme. As he continues...

MALONE (V.O.): Remember, dear readers, you heard it here first, off the record, on

the Q.T. and very Confidential.

While Tacoma Police Chief Dave Brame frolics amongst the glitz and glamour of "Sin City", Las Vegas, Nevada, at TPD's expense, his estranged wife is trying to put her life back together. Back together from what you might ask dear readers.

What started out as an amicable divorce proceeding, filed in King County on February 24th, has turned out to be the biggest scandal this "Sin City" has seen since Commissioner Carr got caught with his pants down on K Street better than 50 years ago. According to filings and depositions, that have been raining down on the court faster than bombs on Baghdad, there are accusations of requested sexual favors, group encounters of threesomes and foursomes, a loaded service weapon left within the children's reach and death threats.

Further dear readers Chief Brame is not the only high ranking Tacoma Police Department official to be caught up in the latest scandal since the City Manager's wife pleaded guilty to insurance fraud. According to an informational report filed with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Brame and Assistant Chief Katherine Woodard gained entrance to his wife's parent's gated Gig Harbor community under "false pretenses". An e-mail to Brame has fallen on deaf ears. But according to Woodard this entire divorce is a personal issue and that she's not going to talk about it. Smart woman Katherine.

In light of further details to come will Tacoma's East Side fair haired boy invoke "The Infamous Areola Blue Code" or stand up in court like a man and allow his estranged wife and children get on with their lives. That dear readers is the question.

FADE TO T.V. TACOMA STUDIOS: Taping of "Behind the Shield" with the Chief's badge looking somewhat tarnished

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Crystal asks for "IMMEDIATE issuance of the restraining order"

Excerpt from an April 17th 2003 letter from Crystal to her attorney, Joe Lombino

Dear Joe,

...One very import issue remaining the IMMEDIATE issuance of the restraining order. I would like this filed with the court today. I have been informed that the Tacoma New Tribune is running a story on this divorce, and its many issues court documents. I feel this is extremely important that you are aware of this. I strongly fear for my personal safety, and I am strongly requesting that the restraining order be put in place today. There is already information about this divorce on the internet. My concern is when the respondent returns from his Las Vegas trip he will come after me. I am pleading with you to please put the restraining order in place immediately for my personal protection.

Regarding mutual restraining orders... I would like to speak to you about that. Can't Mr. Brame request one on me on his own? Why would I want to request one on myself?

Sincerely,
Crystal Brame