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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"Uncovering of the Brame facade" [The News Tribune]

..."There were opportunities for the last six months of David Brame's life for those who were around him to take action," [Attorney General Christine] Gregoire said. "There was a clear change in the behavior of an individual"...


Uncovering of the Brame facade

The News Tribune
Stacey Mulick
November 18th, 2003

David Brame's pending divorce destroyed his career and led several subordinates into questionable decisions and actions, the state's investigation found.

In the last months of his life, Tacoma's police chief was deteriorating emotionally, physically and mentally, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said Monday.

He was late or missed meetings. His appearance was unkempt, and he'd lost weight. He talked obsessively about his life, the investigation found.

Some coworkers reported Brame's behavior to then-City Manager Ray Corpuz. Others tried to mediate in the deteriorating marriage, counseled him about the divorce from his wife, Crystal, or accompanied him to a court hearing.

"There were opportunities for the last six months of David Brame's life for those who were around him to take action," Gregoire said. "There was a clear change in the behavior of an individual."

Nonetheless, Gregoire's office found no evidence that coworkers could have predicted Brame's actions on April 26, when he fatally shot his wife and himself.

Details about Brame's faltering career and his final months were among the revelations in the Washington State Patrol and attorney general's investigation.

"He had such a culture there of dictatorship," Gregoire said.

Criminal investigators found that Brame was not among the top three candidates for police chief in the closing months of 2001 and raised questions about how he emerged as a finalist.

City leaders who interviewed candidates recommended three. Brame wasn't one of them. The leaders discussed the need to add an internal candidate for the morale of the department, and Brame was added, according to investigators.

Two people dropped out, leaving Brame and Deputy Chief Patrick Stephens of Cleveland. Corpuz picked Brame.

As chief, Brame wielded too much control and fostered a corrupt culture during his 15 months, Gregoire said.

"It's almost like a storybook of what not to do," she said.

Specifically, Brame should not have had three subordinates accompany him to an April 10 court hearing on his divorce.

"That is absolutely cardinal that you don't do that," Gregoire said. "The message to the victim is: 'I have no out."

Brame also should not have talked about his marital troubles and interests in sex in the workplace, Gregoire said.

Brame should not have been able to dictate who was hired as legal adviser to the police department.

"Where is your check and balance?" Gregoire asked. "He should never have been able to do that."

Investigators also questioned some of Brame's promotions. "He's very demanding," Gregoire said, "and you had to have undying loyalty to him."

Uncovering of the Brame facade

Uncovering of the Brame facade
The News Tribune
Stacey Mulick
November 18th, 2003

David Brame's pending divorce destroyed his career and led several subordinates into questionable decisions and actions, the state's investigation found.

In the last months of his life, Tacoma's police chief was deteriorating emotionally, physically and mentally, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said Monday.

He was late or missed meetings. His appearance was unkempt, and he'd lost weight. He talked obsessively about his life, the investigation found.

Some coworkers reported Brame's behavior to then-City Manager Ray Corpuz. Others tried to mediate in the deteriorating marriage, counseled him about the divorce from his wife, Crystal, or accompanied him to a court hearing.

"There were opportunities for the last six months of David Brame's life for those who were around him to take action," Gregoire said. "There was a clear change in the behavior of an individual."

Nonetheless, Gregoire's office found no evidence that coworkers could have predicted Brame's actions on April 26, when he fatally shot his wife and himself.

Details about Brame's faltering career and his final months were among the revelations in the Washington State Patrol and attorney general's investigation.

"He had such a culture there of dictatorship," Gregoire said.

Criminal investigators found that Brame was not among the top three candidates for police chief in the closing months of 2001 and raised questions about how he emerged as a finalist.

City leaders who interviewed candidates recommended three. Brame wasn't one of them. The leaders discussed the need to add an internal candidate for the morale of the department, and Brame was added, according to investigators.

Two people dropped out, leaving Brame and Deputy Chief Patrick Stephens of Cleveland. Corpuz picked Brame.

As chief, Brame wielded too much control and fostered a corrupt culture during his 15 months, Gregoire said.

"It's almost like a storybook of what not to do," she said.

Specifically, Brame should not have had three subordinates accompany him to an April 10 court hearing on his divorce.

"That is absolutely cardinal that you don't do that," Gregoire said. "The message to the victim is: 'I have no out."

Brame also should not have talked about his marital troubles and interests in sex in the workplace, Gregoire said.

Brame should not have been able to dictate who was hired as legal adviser to the police department.

"Where is your check and balance?" Gregoire asked. "He should never have been able to do that."

Investigators also questioned some of Brame's promotions. "He's very demanding," Gregoire said, "and you had to have undying loyalty to him."

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268
stacey.mulick@mail.tribnet.com


(Published 12:01AM, November 18th, 2003)

Monday, November 10, 2003

"City of Tacoma Needs to Stop Pointing Fingers" - KOMO Ken Schram Commentary

...How do you defend the undefendable?...

City of Tacoma Needs to Stop Pointing Fingers
KOMO 4 NEWS
November 10, 2003
By Ken Schram

SEATTLE - Any port in a storm.

I imagine that's what the hair-brains who run the City of Tacoma are thinking these days.

That'd be the very same City of Tacoma that says it bears zero responsibility for its police chief killing his wife.

Yes, Tacoma.

The same city that is pointing its bureaucratic finger at the Seattle P.I. newspaper, and says it was published news stories that murdered Crystal Brame.

The very same city that says it's actually Gig Harbor Police that are really at fault.

Mind you, Tacoma is the same city that promoted an alleged rapist to be police chief.

And it's the same city that ignored reports of domestic violence in the chief's marriage.

Tacoma.

That would be the city that allowed its police chief to nurture a culture of deception and cronyism in the police department.

The very same Tacoma that allowed its city manager to wiggle out from under insurance fraud, which would be the same city manager that effectively gave David Brame the gun that killed his wife.

How do you defend the undefendable? Well, if you're one of the hair-brains that runs the City of Tacoma, you blame everyone but yourself.

You try to hide behind pointing at others.

Yep. Any port in a storm.

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

http://www.komotv.com/stories/28237.htm

Friday, November 7, 2003

[FL] Ex-Officer Barnicoat gets life for murdering frightened ex-wife Laurie

...The couple divorced in June 2002. Three months before then, Laurie Barnicoat wrote a letter to a judge asking that her husband be ordered to stay away because she was afraid for her life and her two daughters...

FORMER OFFICER CONVICTED OF KILLING EX-WIFE AT PANHANDLE DAY CARE

Associated Press
Posted on Thu, Nov. 06, 2003

SHALIMAR, Fla. - A former Fort Walton Beach police officer will receive a mandatory prison sentence of life without parole for fatally shooting his ex-wife outside a day care center as she dropped off their 3-year-old daughter if his murder conviction stands.

A seven-man, five-woman jury took just more than two hours Wednesday to find Ronald Barnicoat guilty of premeditated first-degree murder. Barnicoat, 43, of Niceville, remained calm as the verdict was read and thanked the jury for its deliberation.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty so life will be the only sentence possible. Circuit Judge G. Robert Barron was ready to sentence Barnicoat immediately, but ordered a delay until Dec. 15 to give his lawyer time to submit a written motion for a new trial.

Assistant Public Defender Bruce Koran had argued the killing was a crime of rage, not premeditated. He said his client should have been convicted of second-degree murder, punishable by 20 years to life but with parole possible.

Several children in a nearby van witnessed the April 7 shooting, but did not testify. Barnicoat told jurors he went to the La Petite Academy in the nearby Bluewater Bay community to ask his former wife about a photo her cousin had taken of his van, not to kill her.

He acknowledged, however, that he was angry because he was afraid Laurie Barnicoat, 40, wanted to take their two daughters, Summer, 3, and Audra, 9, away from him.

"I just went berserk. Something snapped," Barnicoat testified. "I went into some kind of rage. I don't remember a lot after that."

Jurors, however, decided he knew exactly what he was doing from when he followed the victim from his home until he fired two shots.

The cousin, Gail Beasley, was with her and Summer when she was shot.

"It's a relief," Beasley said after the verdict. "It's the best possible outcome. I'm glad it's all behind me."

The couple divorced in June 2002. Three months before then, Laurie Barnicoat wrote a letter to a judge asking that her husband be ordered to stay away because she was afraid for her life and her two daughters, police said.

Ten days before the letter, Ronald Barnicoat had been taken into custody under the state's Baker Act that lets authorities apprehend a mentally unstable person. He had waved a knife outside his psychiatrist's office and told police to "just shoot me," according to a police report.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

[MD] Officer Frendlick's wife: "I'll try to love you more."

Wife Pleaded in Vain With Arundel Officer Boyfriend, Husband in Murder-Suicide
Washington Post
Darragh Johnson
November 4, 2003

Lisa Frendlich said she pleaded with her estranged husband as he sat on the family-room couch with a .40-caliber, police-issued pistol pressed to his head. On the floor nearby, her boyfriend lay dead, shot several times by David K. Frendlich, 35, an Anne Arundel County police officer. Her two young sons stood outside, one still in his Halloween costume, waiting nervously after witnessing the shooting. "You've got two great kids who love you and need you," she told her husband, crying hysterically. "I'll try to love you more." But "he just shot himself," Lisa Frendlich remembered yesterday in her first interview since the incident Friday night. Police called the shooting a "murder-suicide as a result of an ongoing domestic dispute," sterile words to describe the "slow-motion" minutes on Halloween when Lisa Frendlich lost the father of her children, and the man she loved. Her boyfriend, Ronald L. Boliek, 35, was pronounced dead at her Millersville house. David Frendlich's body was taken to North Arundel Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound to the head. Although they were emotionally estranged, Lisa Frendlich, 34, had moved back to their Millersville house because "it was really hard working out custody of the boys," ages 5 and 6, and paying for two households, she said... The police officer used to park his cruiser in front of Ron Boliek's house and once sneaked into Ron Boliek's bedroom and took a picture of himself to show Boliek he could get into his house, Richard Boliek said. Richard Boliek said his brother had complained to Anne Arundel County police, but a police source said that there was no internal affairs report about Frendlich's behavior and that police had never gone to Frendlich's home or Boliek's house because of a disturbance. "This guy was a loose cannon," an angry Richard Boliek said yesterday, on his way to make funeral arrangements for his brother. "He was a time bomb ticking and ready to go off. And two families are devastated now." Frendlich's boss, Sgt. Bret Ballam, said that David Frendlich had been late to work a few times last week but that otherwise, Frendlich was "very professional" and "meticulous. Everyone knew he had had some problems," Ballam said. "But it was a personal matter for him...."

Thursday, October 23, 2003

[AZ] Officer Kellar's assault in front of kids leaves girlfriend with injuries

...[AW] was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn with bruises and cuts on her face, neck and knees... She also said that she was grabbed by the throat, thrown onto the ground, dragged outside by her hair and that her skull was knocked against a pillar...


PV COP ARRESTED IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE

The Arizona Republic
Emily Bittner, Scottsdale Republic
Oct. 23, 2003 12:00 AM
PARADISE VALLEY - A Paradise Valley police officer was arrested Monday on charges of assaulting his girlfriend in front of her three children. Deron Kellar, 38, a nine-year veteran of the force, is accused of beating of his girlfriend Monday morning while she was at the home of her former husband, getting her children ready for school, said Lt. Ron Warner, a spokesman for the Paradise Valley Police Department. [AW] was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn with bruises and cuts on her face, neck and knees. She was treated and released. "They had been arguing on the phone and he went to the house," Warner said. [AW] told police that the couple was breaking up. She also said that she was grabbed by the throat, thrown onto the ground, dragged outside by her hair and that her skull was knocked against a pillar, Warner Said. Kellar was not there when police arrived, Warner said. Police contacted Kellar later Monday and he was taken to the station that afternoon. At the station, he was arrested and then booked at a Maricopa County jail on a misdemeanor assault charge.
KELLAR WAS RELEASED FROM JAIL WITHOUT BOND TUESDAY MORNING.
He resigned from the Gilbert Police Department in 1992 when an internal investigation found he had sex with a woman in his patrol car two times. He then worked for the Prescott Valley Police Department, where he "performed admirably," Warner said. "We thought that was a risk worth taking," Warner said. Kellar, the department's community services officer, was responsible for arranging the Paradise Valley public safety fair. He was also responsible for the DARE program, crime prevention and the neighborhood watch program. Police are conducting an internal investigation and a criminal case will be submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office next week, Warner said. Kellar is on paid administrative leave.
Reach the reporter at emily.bittner@scottsdalerepublic.com or (602) 444-6486.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Editorial: "Stop writing about Brame?" - News Tribune

...Some have asked us to stop writing about the Brame case. We'd love to. And we will. Just as soon as we know and report all the facts about what happened, what went wrong, and what the city, the courts and other appropriate elected officials intend to do about it.

Stop writing about Brame? Not until all facts are known The News Tribune
DAVID ZEECK
September 14th, 2003
[Excerpts] A lot of questions demand answers in the wake of Crystal Brame's slaying and David Brame's suicide. Today we begin answering a question that hasn't been dealt with yet: How did David Brame run the police department? With favoritism, manipulation, cruelty and abuse of power, it turns out. There were accomplishments, to be sure. He increased attention on community-oriented policing. He targeted more resources at auto thefts (the No. 1 property crime) and meth labs (the fastest-growing crime and an incubator for other crimes). Voters agreed to build a new police headquarters and neighborhood substations. But there was a dark side:
•In promotions he frequently bypassed top candidates to handpick friends and supporters.
•He forced an assistant chief to retire early by threatening his pension.
•He used his position to pressure a female officer to have group sex. (She refused.)
•At least one member of his command staff knew about the harassment, but failed to report it.
•He used friends at the department to help him gather "evidence" that Crystal was the abuser in their relationship.
•He used the department chaplain to counsel Crystal not to divorce him.
Worse, these behaviors were unknown or tolerated in a system that provided virtually no oversight and gave the police chief almost unchecked power to use or abuse the department.
In the past four months we've answered other questions that Tacomans need to know about David Brame... We began a new line of inquiry more than two months ago. In stories labeled "Beyond Brame," we've focused on how we can improve the city, its response to domestic violence and the police department. Among the questions addressed... Asking such questions is our job. Presenting the facts as we find them is our job. Some have asked us to stop writing about the Brame case. We'd love to. And we will. Just as soon as we know and report all the facts about what happened, what went wrong, and what the city, the courts and other appropriate elected officials intend to do about it.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Family Of Slain Police Chief's Wife Files Revised Claim Against Tacoma - KOMO

...But the generous offer comes with conditions: The city must take responsibility for their daughter's death at the hands of her husband, Police Chief David Brame... The city must also release all information concerning the chief and punish those who knew he could be dangerous...

Family Of Slain Police Chief's Wife Files Revised Claim Against Tacoma

Story Published: Sep 4, 2003 at 12:52 PM PDT
Story Updated: Aug 31, 2006 at 1:09 AM PDT
By KOMO Staff & News Services
TACOMA - Crystal Brame's parents revised their claim against the city of Tacoma on Thursday, saying that instead of demanding $75 million, they'll accept whatever the city's insurance will cover.

But the generous offer comes with conditions: The city must take responsibility for their daughter's death at the hands of her husband, Police Chief David Brame, who subsequently committed suicide. The city must also release all information concerning the chief and punish those who knew he could be dangerous, and set up an independent domestic violence program to counsel city employees.

"They have an opportunity to step up here and be accountable," Lane Judson, Crystal's father, said Thursday. "It's their choice. They need to take a good hard look at what we're asking here. ... We want the truth. We want to know how this could have happened."

As to why the family originally asked for $75 million, Judson replied: "We've heard criticism of the amount $75 million. People have said, 'What do you need $75 million for?' This was never about money, this was about getting the truth. The $75 million-dollar figure was designed to get their attention, to let them know this is serious."

Carol Mathewson, a city spokeswoman, said Tacoma's lawyers were reviewing the offer. The mayor and City Council are on vacation this week, she said.

The city has 30 days to review the claim. It rejected the initial $75 million claim, filed June 9.

Paul Luvera, the Judsons' attorney, said he doesn't know how much the city's insurance might pay. At the time of the shootings, Tacoma had $5 million in liability coverage, a $3 million self-insurance fund and about $1 million in an insurance reserve fund.

The city had a $20 million liability insurance policy until a year ago, when the amount was reduced because of rising rates. Luvera said the old policy might still apply because it was in effect when Brame was promoted to chief.

"My problem with the city is they are denying everything," Luvera said. "As long as they are in denial, the insurance company is never going to be motivated to anything to help them."

Luvera says the task is to find out who is responsible for ignoring the danger signs: " We are going to find out who they are. Either the city is going to help us, or we are going to find out the old fashioned way: cross examination under oath."

David Brame shot his wife and then himself on April 26 at a parking lot in the Tacoma suburb of Gig Harbor, in front of their two young children. The couple had been going through a difficult divorce, and Crystal Brame had alleged that her husband abused her.

Since the shootings, the Washington State Patrol and the FBI's public corruption squad have investigated Brame's career.

Brame, the son of a Tacoma police officer, was hired by the force in 1981 against the recommendations of two psychologists who believed he was unfit. He was accused of date-rape in the late 1980s, and one officer came forward after the shootings to say he had offered to promote her in exchange for sex.

The State Patrol completed its investigation and turned the results over to the state Attorney General's Office on Thursday. The results were not made public.

"We'll take a look at it and determine whether any additional work is needed, and follow the standard review work you would follow in any investigation," said Gary Larson, a spokesman for Attorney General Christine Gregoire.

The fallout from the murder-suicide has already claimed the career of City Manager Ray Corpuz, who apparently declined to investigate allegations by some Tacoma officers that Brame and Assistant Police Chief Catherine Woodard had improperly used their rank to intimidate Crystal Brame. Woodard, who has denied wrongdoing, is on paid leave.

In an interview in downtown Seattle on Thursday, Crystal Brame's parents said their primary concern is to have the truth come out and prevent such atrocities in the future. Judson said his daughter had been devastated that every time she tried to stand up for herself, she was confronted by her husband's badge - and sometimes his fellow officers.

On April 10, for example, three officers, including Woodard, showed up with Brame at a divorce hearing at the King County Regional Justice Center in Kent. Among the questions Judson hopes the city will answer is whether those officers were on duty or using city-owned vehicles when they attended that hearing.

Crystal's mother, Patty Judson, said "There are so many people who knew who did not help Crystal. Just ignored everything. I believe that led to my daughters' murder."

She said the couple's children, 8-year-old Haley and 5-year-old David Jr., started school in Gig Harbor this week. Haley's in third grade; David, kindergarten.

"The people, the public, they have no idea the things we go through with them - the going to the gravesite, them crying and asking their mom, 'Please come back!"' Patty said, sobbing. "On the first day of school, the other kids were all saying goodbye to mom and dad, and they didn't have their parents there."

On Haley's desk was a sign with her name and last initial: Haley B. When she saw it, she asked her grandmother to change the initial to J., for Judson. The teacher overheard and put up a new sign.

"We'd like everybody to be accountable for everything, because this will never go away," she said.

http://www.komonews.com/news/archive/4103696.html

Friday, August 15, 2003

Tacoma looking around the country for examples - KOMOTV News

...Tacoma is looking around the country for examples of successful domestic violence prevention programs within police departments... But the [Clark County] sheriff admits you may not always be able to prevent domestic violence within his ranks. Partly, because some alleged victims fear their spouse will lose his or her job...

Domestic Violence Among Police
KOMOTV
By Keith Eldridge
Aug 15, 2003

VANCOUVER, WASH - David Brame and his wife Crystal appeared to be the perfect couple. But after he took her life and his own, the tragic truth came out.

Crystal was afraid of her husband.

But she was also afraid to complain to police because he was one of their own.

Now the Tacoma mayor and interim police chief want a system in place to handle domestic violence cases involving police officers and their spouses.

Tacoma is looking around the country for examples of successful domestic violence prevention programs within police departments. There aren't many, but a leading program is just down I-5 in Vancouver, Washington.

The Clark County Sheriff's office has what is being touted as one of the best prevention and reporting programs in the nation.

The program has a set of protocols for responding to 911 calls for help from police officer wives and husbands. A supervisor is immediately called to the scene, and 911 tapes are preserved. There is an established system for how the investigations are to be handled, and there are specific penalties for investigating officers who do not respond appropriately.

"Victims are going to get the support they need to get them through the system, and there's going to be a thorough investigation," Sheriff Garry Lucas explains. "Based upon that, reports are going to be submitted to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor is going to have to make a decision about what they're going to do."

But the sheriff admits you may not always be able to prevent domestic violence within his ranks. Partly, because some alleged victims fear their spouse will lose his or her job.

"There is a reluctance on the part of some victims to report," says Sheriff Lucas. "So I can't say with absolute assurance that if you enact a policy that is similar to Clark County's that you're never going to have an issue of domestic violence in your organization."

But at least there's a plan in place to give wives and husbands the assurance that they'll be handled fairly.

http://www.komotv.com/stories/26653.htm

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Prosecutors won't charge unnamed Tacoma police commander

...The officer - one of 25 department commanders - was not placed on administrative leave but was closely supervised during the investigations...

Prosecutors won't charge Tacoma police commander
The News Tribune
Karen Hucks
August 14th, 2003

A Tacoma police commander investigated for domestic violence after third-hand allegations that he stalked his wife won't face criminal charges.

"We decided not to file any charges, due to insufficient evidence," said Cort O'Connor, a Pierce County deputy prosecutor heading the misdemeanor domestic violence unit.

The investigation began after John Hathaway, author of an Internet publication often critical of the city, on July 10 sent acting Police Chief Don Ramsdell excerpts of an anonymous e-mail he received containing the allegations.

Tacoma police asked the Pierce County Sheriff's Department to follow up on the criminal investigation and conduct an Internal Affairs query.

The officer - one of 25 department commanders - was not placed on administrative leave but was closely supervised during the investigations.

The News Tribune is not naming the officer because he neither was charged with a crime nor had an internal investigation sustain any allegations against him.

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660
karen.hucks@mail.tribnet.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

NYC Lt. Bouillon kills companion of 22 years, Joan McHugh, & himself


NYC Cop, Woman Found Dead in Roslyn Heights
Officer Down: Lt. Stephen Bouillon
New York City, New York
07/16/2003
Nassau NY homicide detectives last night were investigating what police sources said was the shooting deaths of a New York City internal affairs lieutenant and his longtime female companion at their Roslyn Heights home. The city department identified the man as Lt. Stephen Bouillon, 49, a 23-year veteran who had been a lieutenant for eight years. Nassau police identified the woman as Joan McHugh, 47, described as his companion for 22 years... both victims had received gunshot wounds... The death of the city police lieutenant would be the second for such an officer within a week. Thursday Lt. Theresa Flannery, 33, was found in her Bellmore apartment with gunshot wounds to the head. It has not been determined whether that death was a homicide or a suicide, according to police. Flannery, a 12-year veteran, worked in the Traffic Control Division in Manhattan.
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence (IPV) abuse law enforcement public safety fatality fatalities new york state murder-suicide]

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

[PA] Blocking testimony of cops who say there was dv call to Chief McNeilly's

...[Judge] Cercone heard arguments yesterday on a motion by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bloch to bar the testimony of three subpoenaed defense witnesses. Bloch said the testimony of Pittsburgh police officers Tamara Mason and Stanley Comans and former 911 dispatcher Gail Elliott...

Wednesday trial pits officer vs. chief
By Robert Baird
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Testimony is expected to begin Wednesday in the federal court jury trial of fired Pittsburgh police Officer Edmond N. Gaudelli Jr., who is charged with lying under oath for saying that police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. had been involved in a domestic dispute that turned violent... Gaudelli, 36, of Banksville, was indicted for perjury by a federal grand jury for statements he made under oath that he was dispatched on Sept. 28, 1996, to McNeilly's home on a domestic dispute allegedly involving the chief and his wife, police Cmdr. Catherine McNeilly... Police investigators said that a check of records from computers and calls to and from the city's 911 center showed that no domestic disturbance calls were made involving the McNeilly house at any time. [U.S. District Judge David S.] Cercone heard arguments yesterday on a motion by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bloch to bar the testimony of three subpoenaed defense witnesses. Bloch said the testimony of Pittsburgh police officers Tamara Mason and Stanley Comans and former 911 dispatcher Gail Elliott about an alleged radio broadcast involving the McNeillys' Brookline address were irrelevant and based on hearsay. Defense attorney Anthony Mariani said the testimony should be permitted as an exception to hearsay rules and was intended only to explain the defendant's actions. Cercone said he will rule on Bloch's motion before the trial begins... [Full article here]

Saturday, May 10, 2003

"She was the best mom in the world" - Seattle PI

...But those close to Crystal beg that she be remembered as more than simply a victim. She was a woman of uncommon grace and tenderness... She was also a woman who found the courage to seek a better life for herself and her children. "I think it took her a long time, but once she got her courage up, once she made up her mind, there was no going back," said Crystal's godmother, Judy Hellstrom of Tacoma. "She needed to get a happy life"...Crystal Brame mourned: 'She was the best mom in the world'

By ELAINE PORTERFIELD
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
May 10, 2003

GIG HARBOR -- When she saw a first draft of her mother's obituary, the 8-year-old girl decided she needed to add a few thoughts.

Taking it off the computer printer, she grabbed a pencil and carefully wrote out a few words on behalf of herself and her 5-year-old brother.

Their mother, she wrote, "always let them have play dates with their friends and she was the best mom in the world."

The little girl's family and friends added another thought to Crystal Brame's obituary: "Her children were the loves of her life and she lived each day for them."

Her estranged husband, Tacoma police Chief David Brame, made their children orphans. On April 26, he took his service pistol from his holster and cut down Crystal in a Gig Harbor parking lot as the youngsters sat in his car nearby. He then killed himself.

The two had been involved in a contentious divorce with allegations of domestic violence. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer revealed those allegations the day before the shooting.

On May 3, Crystal, 35, died in Harborview Medical Center. Hundreds are expected at her 11 a.m. funeral today at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, just down the hill from the Brames' former family home.

Yesterday was an official day of mourning in Tacoma, and people gathered at a downtown park for a ceremony honoring Crystal. Among those attending, The Associated Press reported, was City Manager Ray Corpuz, who is on paid leave during an investigation of his role in appointing Brame as chief.

But those close to Crystal beg that she be remembered as more than simply a victim. She was a woman of uncommon grace and tenderness, they say, a natural beauty. She was also a woman who found the courage to seek a better life for herself and her children.

"I think it took her a long time, but once she got her courage up, once she made up her mind, there was no going back," said Crystal's godmother, Judy Hellstrom of Tacoma. "She needed to get a happy life."

Her family and Crystal's family have been close for 40 years, sharing holidays and important events together. Hellstrom was Crystal's godmother. Crystal's father, Lane Judson, is godfather to Hellstrom's son Brad Chatfield.

Crystal, her little sister Julie and Brad were constant friends growing up, and their families affectionately called them the Three Stooges. For nine years in a row, the families vacationed together at Ocean Shores every August for a week of barbecues, sand castles and go-cart rides.

Chatfield, a public information officer with the state Senate, remembers an affectionate girl who although only two years older, mothered both him and her little sister.

"She was always concerned about how everyone else was doing," he said. "She always looked out for me and Julie. That transferred over to her as a mother."

When she started ice skating as a young girl, she gravitated to competitions. She and her sister for years would hit the ice every morning at 4 or 5 a.m. to get their practice in before school. And when she decided at age 11 or 12 to turn her attention to ballet, she naturally got parts in productions such as "The Nutcracker," he said.

"She was just successful at everything she did," Chatfield said.

In Crystal's case, there just isn't anything bad to say, said Chatfield, who wrote her obituary. "She was the best," he said simply.

His heart aches now knowing the allegations of the abuse Crystal made in her divorce court files: her husband backing her into a closet with his gun, threatening her life, controlling her finances, her weight, where she went and with whom she spoke. He wishes she had said something.

"Crystal didn't want to burden us with that," Chatfield said. He thinks now that she feared "we would have looked at her differently."

David Curry met Crystal at Tacoma's Mount Tahoma High. Curry, the student body president, and his twin brother, Dean, were both friends with Crystal. The three graduated together in 1986. He remembers a pretty, sweet and hard-working girl, a tiny girl barely 5 feet tall.

"She wouldn't be the most gregarious person, but she was nice to everyone," he said.

Curry noted that Brame was nine years older than Crystal and that the couple married when she was 23.

"I can easily understand how she could have been overwhelmed by the charisma of an older man," he said.

Crystal, who was on the school's Daffodil Court, part of a venerable Pierce County festival, graduated with honors. Her high school English teacher remembered her fondly.

"She was one of the hardest-working students," said Lee Whitehall, who is now retired.

"In my opinion, she was the student any teacher would want, the daughter anyone would want."

Crystal worked hard to please, Whitehall said.

"I'm sure she approached marriage the same way: 'All right, I'll just have to work harder at it,' " she said. "She was lovely, and that's the truth."

Suzanne Stewart of Tacoma, who went to high school with Crystal, remembers a physically strong and self-confident girl.

"She was very determined," Stewart said. "I was completely shocked by this (abuse). She was not the kind of person who would shrink away."

The two drifted apart after high school. Stewart feels bad about that. "You just keep wondering that if we had kept in contact ...," she said, her voice trailing away.

Close friends of Crystal, a homemaker, are a little harder to find in recent years. Hellstrom said she believes David Brame didn't want his wife to have friends. One constant, Hellstrom said, was her sister Julie Ahrens, who also lives in Gig Harbor.

"It's been very hard on her sister," Hellstrom said. "They roomed together at the University of Washington, both majored in criminal justice and both married a (man named) David."

Michael Conmy, a neighbor on the cul-de-sac where the Brames lived, said Crystal often had a stooped, tightly wound look to her body. That changed after she moved out, he said: On a visit to the home to collect some items, she held her head tall, and threw her shoulders back.

"There was a strength to her, a defiance to her," he recalled.

She stopped to talk with him, and suddenly began detailing how she had been abused, Conmy said. He was shocked to hear that about the police chief of Tacoma.

"She said that he had put a gun her head," he said. "She said that the threats (to her life) were continuing. ... It was like a bomb going off in my head."

One friend in recent years was Linda Lee Clarke, owner of the home-decor shop Seasons on the Bay in Gig Harbor. Crystal loved the shop and came by frequently.

Clarke said the young mother had to scrounge for spare change to make her small purchases, because her husband controlled their finances so tightly.

"I'd see her count out these nickels and dimes, and I used to say, 'You're entitled to half of everything,' " Clarke recalled, her voice rising.

Crystal took her husband into the shop during the holidays to persuade him to buy the family a tall, flocked Christmas tree for which she longed, Clarke said. Crystal wouldn't or couldn't simply buy the tree herself.

"God bless her, Crystal got her tree," she said.

Not long after Christmas, Crystal took Clarke aside at the shop.

"She said, 'I want you to be the first to know, I left him,' " she said. "I hugged her and said I was so happy. I was so proud. That was a big decision for her. It has to be when you're so frightened. ... It must have taken an awful lot of love for her children to make that decision."

P-I reporter Elaine Porterfield can be reached at 206-870-7851 or elaineporterfield@seattlepi.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Summary of witness statements

Excerpted from
Gig Harbor Police Supplemental Report
Incident No. GH030460.2

Synopsis: Interview of multiple witnesses.
Detective Kelly B. Busey

Date 5/6/03
Gig Harbor WA

Narrative:

On 4/26/03 at approximately 1600,1 was advised of a double shooting that had occurred in the city limits of Gig Harbor within the previous hour. I was assigned to interview all potential witnesses to this event. Following is a summary of these interviews:

[RL]
[RL] is employed as a senior paramedic with King County Medic One. He and his wife were driving into the parking lot of the Rite Aid/Sunset Grill shopping complex when he noticed several people running in various directions. His attention was drawn to a specific vehicle within the lot. The driver's side door was open and several people were standing near it. He parked next to the vehicle and got out. He observed a woman down on the pavement. She was prone and her head was partially under the adjacent car. He recognized that she had been shot in the head and he rendered basic airway maintenance first aid. He noticed a male in the car who was also injured and began basic airway management on him. When on-duty paramedics arrived, he briefly consulted with them and backed away from the scene. As he was departing the vehicle, he noted something stuck to the sole of his shoe. It appeared to be divorce paperwork bearing a female name.

[LC]
[LC] is the wife of [RL]. She was in the car with him as they entered the parking lot. She did not immediately recognize people running within the lot, but as they parked next to the victim vehicle, she observed two children visibly upset standing approximately 15-20 feet in front of the vehicle. She immediately went to comfort them and determine the problem. She turned around and saw the woman laying in a pool of blood on the parking lot surface immediately outside the driver's side door. She also observed a male laying back in the car. She heard someone mention that there had been a shooting. As [LC] attended to the girl, the girl told her "My daddy is a policeman and he's is very mean to mommy. I think my daddy has killed her. Please help my mommy. They're in a divorce." [LC] assisted in removing the children from the scene and notified police of their location.

[SS]
[SS] and his wife [B] were exiting the Rite Aid store and walking east through the parking lot toward their car. They both heard a car alarm that was coming from the area where they had parked. As they got closer, Steve heard what he recognized as two gunshots. Simultaneously, he observed two children (boy and girl) exit a maroon car parked next to his and run across the parking lot toward a black car (the victim vehicle). The car alarm was evidently sounding from the maroon car in which the children had been. As he looked in the direction of the gunshots, he saw somebody slump over in the black car from the driver's seat toward the passenger side. [SS] and his wife followed the children around the back of the black car and now observed the girl standing over a woman on the ground. Steve thought that the woman had been shot. His wife assisted in removing the children from the immediate area of the woman. [SS] called 911 from his cell phone and stayed on the line until law enforcement arrived. During the phone call, he observed a man remove a handgun from the vicinity of the victim vehicle and place it on the ground a safe distance away. [SS] stood near the gun until law enforcement arrived.

[BS]
[BS] described the same basic version of the events that [SS] had told me. She noted that as the children were running from the maroon car toward the black car, She heard the girl say "My dad's hurt my mom. Help her. Help her. My dad's mean to my mom." When she arrived at the black car, she observed both the female on the ground and the male in the car. She assumed that the male had shot himself, based partly upon what the girl had said. She moved the children a short distance away and stood by while paramedics treated the injured parties.

[KM]
[KM] and her husband were in the process of putting their children into their van which was parked a short distance away from the black car. She heard two loud "bangs" and thought at first this was a vehicle accident. She estimates the shots were separated by two seconds. She looked in the direction of the noises and noticed the two children running toward the black car. [KM] could see from her position that the driver's door to the black car was open and a woman was laying on the pavement beside it. [KM] began to go toward the car and by now, someone was attending to the injured woman. She then saw a male in the car and saw that his face.was covered with blood. [KM] then was drawn to the crying children and began to attend to them. She assisted in moving the children to the Hollywood Video store nearby. After obtaining identifying information from the children, she passed their names to a police officer at the scene.

[AM]
Alex Monro is the husband of [KM]. He told me the same sequence of events, except that he stayed with his own children at their van during the response to the incident. He did hear the two "bangs," but estimates that they were separated by one second. [AM] also saw a man carry a handgun away from the car and place it in another location of the parking lot.

[MM]
[MM] was sitting in the Sunset Grill Restaurant in a position where he could see out the west windows into the parking lot. He did not hear any noises, but observed several people running in the parking lot toward the area where he had parked his van. He immediately went into the parking lot and saw that the people were congregating at a black vehicle parked two spaces away from his van. He walked to the black car to get a better view and observed the injured woman laying on the ground in a pool of blood just outside the driver's door. [MM] noticed a shell casing on the ground outside the door of the black car and observed the injured male inside the car. He ran back into the Sunset Grill and instructed the employees to call 911 because there had been a shooting. He returned to where the injured woman lay and assisted as best he could.

[NL]
[NL] is an employee of Hollywood Video. That business shares the same parking lot as the location of this incident. While inside the store, she heard a loud noise that sounded like a car backfiring. One of her co-workers commented that it sounded like a gunshot. Soon, a person came into the business and instructed them to call 911 because someone had been shot. [NL] placed the call, but handed the phone to the co-worker. She went outside to investigate. She immediately noticed a woman running from the direction of the black car toward a van. The woman retrieved a towel and ran back to the black car. As she continued toward the black car, [NL] observed a man carefully carrying a handgun away from the car and placing it in another part of the parking lot. Continuing further, she saw the injured woman laying on the ground outside the driver's door of the vehicle. She saw that some people were already helping her and then noticed the crying children. She made contact with the children and the adults helping them and suggested that they move the children into her business. On the way to the store, the girl told her that her parents were getting a divorce. She then assumed that the injured woman was the mother of the children. She assisted in caring for the children for approximately 20 minutes. During this time, the girl (identified to her as Haley) disclosed that her father was taking her to Rite Aid, but when they arrived, they saw her mother. Their father instructed both children to wait in the car (maroon car) and he walked to the black car. The girt also made several other references to previous violent acts of domestic violence initiated by her father. [NL] was unclear whether these incidents happened this date or at an earlier time.

*Rodney Baker
Rod Baker was departing the Shuck's Auto Supply store in the same shopping center. As he was walking to his vehicle, he heard a "high-pitched funny sounding voice" in the parking lot. He looked around and noticed a woman standing outside the open door to the black vehicle. His view corridor allowed him to see directly along the driver's side of the black car and the car parked adjacent to it. There was evidently someone seated in the driver's seat, however he could not see inside the car. The woman was the one he had heard, although he could not make out what she was saying. He watched her for a few seconds and described her as leaning into the car, as if face to face with the person seated inside. Then, he heard her yell "Oh no...don't" right before he heard two quick gunshots. The woman fell immediately. Rod was adamant that there was less than one second between gunshots. He ran back into Shucks to alert employees to call 911. He went back toward the parking lot, however he could not determine who or where the shooter might be. When he saw a crowd of people gathering at the black car, he went to it and asked if anyone knew where the person who fired the shots was currently located. Someone directed his attention to the male in the car. Rod noted that the male was still breathing and decided to locate and isolate the gun. He described the injured male as being seated on the driver's side, but leaned way back over onto the passenger's seat. His feet were extended out the open door and were a few inches above the pavement. On the ground below his feet, Rod located the handgun. He picked it up by the end of the grip with two fingers of his right hand and moved it to another location. He directed a bystander [SS] to stay with the gun until law enforcement arrived. Since Baker touched the handgun, I asked if he would be willing to supply his own fingerprints for possible comparison to any prints taken from the handgun. He complied with this request and the fingerprint card is attached. Baker wanted to clarify that he felt the gunshots were too close together for it to be an intentional homicide/suicide attempt. I asked him what scenario he envisioned and he thought that the female may have been attempting to prevent the male from shooting himself when the gun was discharged.

All subjects interviewed provided written statements supporting their version and perspective of the events. I conducted no other interviews about this incident on this date.

Under penalty of perjury

Detective Kelly B. Busey
Date 5/6/03
Gig Harbor WA

*Note:I redacted the witness names. I left Rod Baker's since his extrapolations were published in a book .

Sunday, May 4, 2003

"Brame's wife dies; Tacoma in turmoil" - Seattle Times

...Yesterday, [Mayor Bill] Baarsma responded to a report in The News Tribune in which unnamed city government sources said the city attorney rejected advice the day before the shooting that the chief have his gun taken away. "I opened up my newspaper this morning and that was the first I heard about it," Baarsma said. "And at this point I'm numb. I guess I'm no longer stunned, I'm just numb"...


BRAME'S WIFE DIES; TACOMA IN TURMOIL

Questions surface whether warning signals were ignored
David Postman and Ray RiveraSeattle Times staff reporters
Seattle Times
May 4, 2003

TACOMA — On the day Police Chief David Brame was buried, and his estranged wife was declared dead, city officials were mired in a controversy over whether they ignored warning signs that foreshadowed the two deaths.

Brame's wife, Crystal, whom he shot in the head before turning his police revolver on himself one week earlier, died yesterday in a Seattle hospital.

The latest turn in the tragedy mixed uneasily with politics yesterday when City Hall began to struggle with the question: Who knew what, and when did they know it?

Last night, the City Council decided not to force City Manager Ray Corpuz Jr. on administrative leave. Some council members are questioning his role in the hiring, promoting and protecting of David Brame, despite early warnings about Brame's psychological fitness for the job and accusations by his wife and another woman that he was abusive.

The council said Corpuz will have no involvement in the investigations surrounding the case. But a majority said that when they consider a formal resolution Tuesday they will vote to keep Corpuz on the job.

The council began its emergency meeting with a moment of silence for the then-still alive Crystal Brame. By the time the meeting was done, she had been pronounced dead.

The mayor and at least one other council member donned purple ribbons and stickers that said, "Crystal, we believe you!"

The council appears split 6-3 in favor of keeping Corpuz.

"I've spoken to a lot of community leaders who are very concerned about putting the cart before the horse," said City Councilman Kevin Phelps. He said there had been no proof Corpuz has done anything wrong.

But others said the investigation could be hampered with Corpuz still in charge.

"The very fact that he continues to lead the government may lead others who serve under him to be a little reluctant to be completely open with the investigation," said Mayor Bill Baarsma.

Corpuz last night expressed sympathy to Crystal Brame's family, particularly her two children. He said it's important that the investigation be thorough and fair, and that he would work to rebuild trust in the city government.

Crystal Brame had appeared to be battling back, beyond doctors' expectations, but she deteriorated Friday night and was declared dead at 4:40 p.m. yesterday.

The news of her death was made public just as a group of women appeared in the council chambers to say she deserved better from public officials.

The group calling itself "Women for Justice," and handing out stickers supporting Crystal's allegations of abuse, urged the council to find someone other than the association of police chiefs to investigate the hiring of Brame and what led to the death of his wife.

"These are the same groups of people that have let her down, and to ask them to investigate their own is an outrage," said Debra Hannula, a Tacoma attorney.

David Brame rose from patrolman to chief of police despite a psychologist's report that he should not be hired by the Tacoma Police Department more than 20 years ago. Over the years, there have been red flags about his résumé, a rape allegation, an internal-affairs investigation and warnings that he should have his gun and badge taken away.

"What you hope you see come from this is somebody, if not the City Council as a body, rise up and really get a strong grip on where to take the city from here," said state Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Tacoma resident and former Pierce County official whose family has a prominent political history here.

"How do we regain confidence in city government?"

Corpuz, who hired Brame as police chief in December 2001, said he never knew about the psychologist's report nor the accusations that Brame had raped a woman. He says he relied upon the recommendation of then-Police Chief Ray Fjetland to promote Brame.

Tacoma power brokers lobbied council members to leave Corpuz in charge of the city.

"The political culture is imploding in on itself, and Ray Corpuz has always been at the top of that culture," said John Hathaway, publisher of the New Takhoman, a Web site that first reported on Brame's divorce filings that included allegations of domestic violence.

If not imploding, the town's political apparatus appeared paralyzed.

Yesterday, Baarsma responded to a report in The News Tribune in which unnamed city government sources said the city attorney rejected advice the day before the shooting that the chief have his gun taken away. "I opened up my newspaper this morning and that was the first I heard about it," Baarsma said. "And at this point I'm numb. I guess I'm no longer stunned, I'm just numb."

Before yesterday's City Council meeting, Baarsma conceded that the council should have acted sooner.

"Absolutely, there should have been a meeting early on discussing who knew what when?" he said.

The council yesterday did not question City Attorney Robin Jenkinson about whether top human-resources officials recommended pulling Brame's gun and badge on April 25, the day before the shooting.

Divorce records, in which Crystal Brame alleges her husband threatened her with a gun, were published in a newspaper report that day.

Human Resources Director Phil Knudsen and Assistant Director Mary Brown became concerned after learning that Crystal Brame had accused her husband in divorce proceedings of choking her and threatening her with a gun, the Tacoma News Tribune reported yesterday.

The city's legal advisers disagreed with that recommendation, saying the Brames' divorce was a civil matter in which the city had no business, the newspaper's sources said.

What Corpuz knew about Brame's history when he hired him as chief is among the issues being probed in an external investigation by The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

The city also has contracted the State Patrol for a separate investigation into acting Police Chief Catherine Woodard, who was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday over questions of her involvement with Brame. Crystal Brame had accused Woodard of threatening and intimidating her recently.

Corpuz was hired as city manager in 1990 after 12 years in city and county government.

"The city manager is the most powerful government figure in Pierce County. The city manager could always trump a city councilman," said state Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, a former veteran city councilman.

And he has powerful friends. Yesterday, former Mayor Mike Crowley, who was mayor when Brame was hired, and former Councilman Paul Miller, who said he pushed for Brame to get the chief's job, lobbied council members to keep Corpuz on the job.

"I think this witch hunt is bad for the community," Miller said. "There's only one man who pulled the trigger and only one man who's responsible for pulling the city apart."

State Rep. Dennis Flannigan, D-Tacoma, who counts Corpuz as a friend, said the city manager wields his power quietly.

"You hardly know he was in the room, but after he leaves things start to happen," Flannigan said. "He says, `Here's three words and it explains where I stand.' "

Flannigan says the rebuilding of downtown Tacoma had a lot to do with the confidence local business leaders have in Corpuz.

Former City Councilwoman Nancy Davis said council members were briefed by Corpuz about the police chief search, but she never saw the personnel file or the city report that raised concerns.

"I wouldn't fault the city manager because I think he had a lot of pressure to promote from within by the union," said Davis, whose five-month tenure coincided with the chief search and Brame hire.

Pressures to bring someone up from inside came from police officers and local politicians.

In particular, there were objections to Corpuz's decision to hire outsider Philip Arreola as chief in 1996.

Arreola was replaced by James Hairston, a veteran Tacoma police officer. When Hairston retired, Kirby, the police union and others pushed Corpuz to hire someone from within the department.

But because of pressure to hire from within the department and the fact that Tacoma officials were close to Brame and thought they knew him, there was not a strong push for the sort of background check given to outside candidates.

"The chief was someone that many people in the city had known for quite a few years and the his performance on the job was already known and respected," said Councilman Doug Miller, who sided with Corpuz.

"I think it's worth some slack in that it's not like you're evaluating someone you've never met before or someone from another city. We had recommendations from past chiefs who had worked with him."

Kirby has been a longtime critic of Corpuz's and says, "I've been thinking Ray has probably outlived his usefulness for the past year or so."

But he doesn't think Corpuz should be fired because of the Brame hiring.

"I got to tell you, it's just when I look back I say to myself, `Gosh, was that ever a screwed up plan.' "

David Postman: 360-943-9882 or dpostman@seattletimes.com

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.