Corpuz: No one told me to investigate Brame
By DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News
September 27, 2005
TACOMA - Former Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz has broken his silence about what he did and did not know about his hand-picked Police Chief, David Brame. Brame killed his wife and himself in April of 2003... [Attorney for Crystal Brame's family Paul] Luvera asked: Was it ever brought to your attention that there was a culture of intimidation and fear, cliques, secrecy, favoritism and intimidation for career advancement within the Tacoma Police Department while you were city manager?" To which Corpuz answered, "I may have heard some of that. And I treated those as rumors." Corpuz' statements also raise new questions as to why neither he, nor anyone else was able to help Crystal Brame in the days leading up to her murder. He stated that he did not contact Crystal Brame, nor her family, nor anyone at the police department. [Full article [Full article here]
City manager talks about the way he handled Brame warnings
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Seattle Times/ AP
September 27, 2005
TACOMA — Former City Manager Ray Corpuz revealed in a long-awaited deposition that city employees repeatedly warned him about Police Chief David Brame's erratic behavior, long before Brame fatally shot his wife and himself.
Corpuz said in the sworn deposition, conducted a week ago, that he hesitated to act on the warnings, which included references to Brame's death threats against his wife, Crystal, for various reasons.
In the deposition, which breaks more than two years of self-imposed silence, Corpuz said he was suspicious of complaints from anonymous sources, was skeptical of claims in divorce filings and feared overreacting to media reports, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.
"I mean, I didn't have anything before me," Corpuz said in his sworn statement. "I had nobody recommending any actions or steps."
The deposition was part of a $12 million agreement that settles a wrongful-death suit against the city, filed by the family of Crystal Judson Brame. Part of the agreement stipulates that the Judson family attorneys can continue to conduct depositions of key parties in the scandal.
Although Corpuz was the only official with the power to place Brame on administrative leave, he did not do so. Assistant Police Chief Catherine Woodard asked Corpuz to put the chief on vacation because he was too distracted by his divorce to focus on work.
Two weeks before the shootings, Woodard read Corpuz the report of a 911 call from Crystal Brame, who said her husband had threatened to kill her. Two days later, Woodard hand-delivered an anonymous complaint to Corpuz from police officers. It referenced the 911 call. Woodard suggested an investigation. Corpuz decided against it.
In his testimony, Corpuz, fired by the City Council more than two years ago in the aftermath of the shootings, often said he could not remember details of the events surrounding the scandal. The phrase "I don't recall" appears 61 times in the transcript of his two-hour deposition.
He couldn't remember Woodard suggesting Brame be sent on vacation. He couldn't recall telling Woodard the city wouldn't investigate the anonymous complaint. Several times, Corpuz said that he expected someone on his staff would recommend some sort of action regarding Brame. He said he never received one.
"I would have expected my staff, my staff to again review the matter and bring some action or something for me to consider," he said. "We don't, you know, just react because it's in the newspaper," he testified. "I — If I did that, I wouldn't have lasted 13 and a half years with the City Council. So I mean, those things are reported. And there's always usually two sides to every issue. And you balance that by making sure you follow some due process. You don't, I don't think, overreact."
Julie Ahrens, sister of Crystal Brame, said Corpuz's testimony made little sense. "He's the manager — why the hell does need anyone to tell him what do?" she said. "Isn't he the top dog?"
David Ahrens, Crystal Brame's brother-in-law, told The News Tribune yesterday that a city employee rebuffed his efforts to file a complaint against Brame the day before the shootings. The allegation was revealed in the deposition of Corpuz, who said he wasn't aware of the complaint.
Ahrens said he still has notes on his computer of his conversation with a former city communications director. That employee, Dan Voelpel, who now works for The News Tribune, said he didn't recall the conversation with Ahrens or anyone related to Brame or his wife.