Custom Search

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

[WA] Crystal's parents, Lane & Patty Judson, are making a difference

...Their efforts have resulted in new federal and local laws that reform police departments and reward law enforcement agencies that include domestic violence prevention programs in their hiring and training practices...

Change in law biggest win for the Judsons
The Peninsula Gateway
April 30th, 2008
THE greatest tragedy in Crystal Judson Brame’s death five years ago was that she had already taken legal, social and emotional steps to separate herself from her husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame. Although her family and friends had supported and protected her throughout the separation process, that support was undermined by Brame’s position of power. Ultimately, Brame shot Crystal, then turned the gun on himself in a Gig Harbor shopping center. Since that day, Lane and Patty Judson, Crystal’s parents, have made it their mission in life to change laws, raise domestic violence awareness and show the impact such a tragedy can have. Time has brought us the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center in Tacoma, where victims of domestic violence can seek help and guidance. Crystal is also remembered through the Crystal Judson Foundation, which promotes domestic violence awareness, and she’s honored through the Crystal Judson Brame Memorial Scholarship. But the biggest accomplishment of Lane and Patty Judson has come in the area of public safety. Their efforts have resulted in new federal and local laws that reform police departments and reward law enforcement agencies that include domestic violence prevention programs in their hiring and training practices. These kinds of changes not only help prevent domestic violence from occuring, they lead to greater accountability for agencies designed to protect people in the first place. [Source]

[WA] Crystal'd dad: If you violate the law, we don't need you as a police officer

..."If you work down at McDonald's, or you work at Macy's, or you work at Nordstrom, or you work at Albertson's and you do domestic violence, I can't do anything about it," Lane Judson explained. "But if you're a public servant, and you took an oath to uphold the law to protect - and even to protect the ones that you love - and you violate that law, we don't need you as a police officer"...

Five years later
Remembering Crystal

The Peninsula Gateway
Paige Richmond
April 30th, 2008

Last week marked two important dates for Lane Judson. Thursday, April 24, was his daughter Crystal's birthday. But rather than celebrating the day, Lane and his wife, Patty, were reminded of another event - the five-year anniversary of one the biggest crimes in Gig Harbor history.

In 2003, just two days after their daughter turned 35, Crystal Judson Brame was killed by her husband, David Brame - who, at the time, was the Tacoma Police Chief.

Brame shot his wife in the parking lot of a Gig Harbor shopping center before turning the gun on himself. The Brames' two children, Haley and David Jr., then 8 and 5, respectively, were witnesses.

In the days and months that followed, shocking revelations about Brame became public: He was prone to domestic violence, having abused Crystal for nearly a decade before their divorce, and he had used his power as police chief to intimidate Crystal and prevent her from reporting his abuse.

But the following months also marked legal and personal accomplishments on the part of Crystal's father.

Lane Judson began campaigning for state and federal reform of domestic violence laws. He filed a lawsuit against the Tacoma Police Department for wrongful death. And he has provided seminars on domestic violence prevention to police departments across the country.

In the past five years, Lane Judson has not taken a single day off for vacation or rest. Instead, he has worked tirelessly to make sure what happened to his daughter does not happen to anyone else.

Time has also allowed the Gig Harbor community to heal. The Crystal Judson Foundation, a non-profit organization that sponsors events and promotes education to prevent domestic abuse and violence, has also been formed.

On Saturday, the foundation and the Judsons held a candlelight ceremony at Peninsula Christian Fellowship to honor Crystal's memory. People like David Branscom, a Gig Harbor resident, attended the event to see Lane Judson's presentation on the warning signs of domestic abuse - the same presentation he delivers during law enforcement trainings.

Branscom has two daughters of his own and hopes to teach them how to avoid potentially dangerous relationships. He was living in Gig Harbor when the shootings occurred and said he knows the crime affected him.

"The issue of domestic abuse - I've heard a lot about it, and it's something I don't want in my home," he said.

Lane Judson said that the many opportunities he's had to speak about his daughter's life allowed something good to come from a tragedy - namely that others, like Branscom, may help prevent domestic violence from happening.

"We were just a normal family," said Lane Judson, a retired U.S. Navy Chief, about what his life was like before Crystal died. "It was this tragedy that really turned things around, and made us stop and think, 'How many other people are involved in this situation?' "

His wife, Patty, agreed.

"Nothing like this ever happened to us," she said. "It was overwhelming. But we just had to do something."

One of the biggest steps Lane Judson took in the past five years was advocating for the Crystal Judson Brame Domestic Violence Protocol Program, a federal law that provides grant funding to law enforcement agencies to educate their officers about domestic violence. Both Lane and Patty Judson felt that their son-in-law's position in the police department was what allowed his abuse against his daughter to go unpunished.

Reports disclosed after Brame's death, for example, revealed that he had failed two of three necessary psychological examinations for employment in law enforcement.

"If you work down at McDonald's, or you work at Macy's, or you work at Nordstrom, or you work at Albertson's and you do domestic violence, I can't do anything about it," Lane Judson explained. "But if you're a public servant, and you took an oath to uphold the law to protect - and even to protect the ones that you love - and you violate ... that law, we don't need you as a police officer."

Lane Judson placed his first call to state Sen. Maria Cantwell asking that such a law be passed on May 12, 2003 - just two days after his daughter's funeral.

It would take 2 1/2 years - and a local campaign involving 12,500 hand-addressed letters mailed to state congressmen and senators - before the law was passed on December 16, 2005.

The Judsons received a personal call from U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee the night the law was approved, a little more than a week before Christmas.

"He told us, 'Your daughter's name will forever be in the halls of Congress.' And we told him" - said Lane Judson, who paused and began to shed tears as he recounted the memory - "it was the best Christmas present we could ever get."

At the same time Lane Judson was campaigning for federal change, other changes were happening locally. The state of Washington passed the Crystal Clear Initiative in 2004, a law that mandates that every state law enforcement program has an officer-involved domestic policy in place.

The Judsons also filed a wrongful death suit against the City of Tacoma, claiming that the city should never had hired Brame in the first placed and that the department needed to be reformed. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2006, with $12 million awarded to Haley and David Jr. as the sole beneficiaries.

The Brames' children, who are now under the legal guardianship of Crystal's sister and brother-in-law, Julie and David Ahrens, are doing well, Patty Judson said.

"They're just doing fantastic, and we're so proud of them," she said. "We try to make their life as normal as we possibly can."

Lane Judson added that it's difficult to consider their grandchildren's lives normal when they have "experienced such a tragedy" of losing their mother and father, but that he and his wife attempt to keep Crystal's memory and name alive for Haley and David Jr.

One way of accomplishing that was through the conditions of the lawsuit against the City of Tacoma. Pierce County, which was initially named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, agreed to name its domestic violence resource center - which was, at the time, in the process of being constructed- after Crystal if the county was dropped from the civil case.

The Judsons agreed, and the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center was formed in late 2005.

About the same time, then-retiring Gig Harbor Mayor Gretchen Wilbert, civic leader Laurie Winkle and attorney Parker Reich established The Crystal Judson Foundation. Since forming, the foundation has been working to build an ice arena in Gig Harbor to honor Crystal, who was an award-winning figure skater as a child.

At Saturday's anniversary ceremony, Wilbert announced that the foundation is presently negotiating to acquire property on which to build the arena. She also stated that a temporary arena may soon be built at Uptown Gig Harbor.

That ice arena, Wilbert said, is just one step of many that the foundation and the Judsons will take to keep Crystal's memory alive.

"This isn't the end, this isn't the beginning; it's just one chapter," she said. "And there will be chapter after chapter after chapter."

Reach Lifestyles Coordinator Paige Richmond at 853-9243 or by e-mail at paige.richmond@gateline.com.

http://www.gateline.com/100/story/1295.html

[TN] Officer Hoover indicted for domestic assault

Former police officer indicted on domestic assault charges
WATE 6 Knoxville
April 28, 2008
A grand jury has indicted a former Knoxville police officer on 30 counts related to a domestic assault last summer. Brian Hoover is indicted on counts that include aggravated assault, domestic assault and especially aggravated kidnapping. According to the police report, in August 2007, Hoover held a woman captive for up to five hours, threatened her with a shotgun and hit and kicked her. Hoover resigned from the police force last fall. [Source]

[WA] Mother of former Trooper Ronda Reynolds never gave up

From today's news:
...The Problem Solvers learned of a mother's long struggle to prove her daughter didn't kill herself. She believes something more sinister is at work, and we have uncovered evidence and found experts who are convinced that what was ruled a suicide, was actually a heinous crime...

Ronda Reynolds
RealCrimes
My daughter, Ronda Reynolds, 33, was discovered dead of a gunshot wound to her head, in Toledo, Washington, on December 16, 1998. She died on the floor of her master bedroom walk-in closet, following a heated argument with her husband... That evening, Ronda phoned to tell me that her marriage was over, and she was coming to visit me in eastern Washington, where she would sort things out and form a game plan. She had made plane reservations for the next day, and David Bell would take her to the airport. When deputies arrived at the house, they found her bags and makeup kit packed and ready to go and a phonebook open to airline listings...

From Justice For Ronda
...I could get on with my life if Ronda had been killed in an accident. I could even have accepted suicide, if it truly was suicide. But having to deal every day with a police cover-up – reading and rereading the case file, finding investigative mistakes and reading the blatant lies that have been manufactured to conceal those blunders, keeps the wound of my loss open with no chance of healing. To live without closure is unbearable. To let a politically corrupt law enforcement agency lie, cover up, and disregard a human life to benefit their self-image is unacceptable. The Lewis County Sheriff's Department and all other law enforcement agencies in our country need to be held accountable for their actions, so that no other parent, ever, will have to experience this type of indescribable nightmare.
Barbara Thompson -- Ronda's mother

[For copyright reasons I'm only posting excerpts of the following article, but the original article will likely remain online. If it becomes unavailable and you want it, email me.]
Experts: Investigation botched; former trooper was murdered
Story Published: Apr 29, 2008 at 11:09 PM PDT
KOMO, WA
By Tracy Vedder
Apr 29, 2008
Who pulled the trigger that took the life of former state trooper Ronda Reynolds? Was it suicide? Or was it murder? The Problem Solvers learned of a mother's long struggle to prove her daughter didn't kill herself. She believes something more sinister is at work, and we have uncovered evidence and found experts who are convinced that what was ruled a suicide, was actually a heinous crime. After 10 years, much of the original evidence in Ronda Reynolds' death investigation has been lost or destroyed. So to understand what happened we returned to the scene of her death. We talked to new experts and the original detective on the case. All believe authorities botched the investigation in calling it a suicide. "It was a murder in 1998," says former detective Jerry Berry, "it's a murder today." They believe it's murder set to look like suicide. "That's a rearranged scene," says forensic pathologist Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, "that's a staged scene." Ronda had been a state trooper and firearms instructor. She left the patrol to work in private security... That night, Ronda booked a flight to her mom's in Spokane. Scene photos show she'd packed her bags, and left a message to her husband on the bathroom mirror: "I love you, call me."Within hours, Ronda was found dead... "I believe she was murdered," Ronda's mother said. However, quoting from police reports, Ron Reynolds told investigators the day and night before her death, they "were talking about separating" and she'd been "talking about committing suicide"... We tried to talk to Ron Reynolds, but he didn't return phone calls, and his attorney says he will not do an interview... "The first red flag was the gun being in her left hand," says Berry... Another oddity: No fingerprints on the weapon. "There should have been at least smudges somewhere on the gun, but there was nothing," said Berry. "It was clean." Berry admits he and the department made mistakes which caused them to lose critical evidence. For instance, he wasn't allowed to interview the three Reynolds boys until two months after Ronda's death. But he still thought the case could be solved. "Every piece of circumstantial evidence screamed murder," he said. But seven months after Ronda's death, Ron Reynolds' attorney wrote the department insisting they remove the cloud of suspicion and close the case... Berry says the sheriff's office caved, closing the case as a suicide over his objections. "They just basically wanted me to let it go, leave it as a suicide and move on and take on other cases and be done with it"... Early this year, Ronda's mother asked forensic pathologist Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds - who's no relation - to review the case. With 2,000 autopsies and 30 years of practice to his credit, the Problem Solvers asked him to review it again - for us. "This is not a self-inflicted wound," says Dr. Reynolds... Ronda's mother Barb Thompson has given up expecting anyone will ever face charges. Now, she just wants Ronda's death certificate changed from suicide to homicide. "She definitely deserves that," she said. We've asked the Lewis County Sheriff to explain their reasons for closing the case as a suicide. They've refused. They did ask two outside organizations to review their investigation of Ronda's death. The Washington State Attorney General's homicide team agreed with Lewis County, calling it suicide. The former commander of the New York Police Homicide Task Force found this was a staged crime scene and murder.
http://www.komotv.com/news/local/18394794.html

Justice for Rhonda
http://justiceforronda.com/bio.htm
http://justiceforronda.com/trooper1.htm

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of the book, Justice for Ronda, by Ronda's mother, Barbara Thompson
http://www.realcrimes.com/Reynolds/excerpt_Ronda.htm

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

[MI] Lt. Junewick charged with domestic assault

Tribal police officer arrested on assault charges
www.tv7-4
April 28, 2008
A tribal police officer has been charged with domestic assault. Lieutenant Steve Junewick, with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Department of Public Safety in Manistee, was arrested on April 1 by the Michigan State Police. Junewick was arrested on domestic assault charges and is scheduled to be back in court on April 30. [Source]

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
Department of Public Safety
Director of Public Safety - Joseph J LaPorte
Lieutient - Steve Junewick
3031 Domres Rd
Manistee, Michigan 49660
(231)398-3413

[MA] Chief's son Officer Peachy reinstated after dv firing & drops lawsuit

Middleton patrolman reinstated: Cop whose gun permit was pulled 'happy to be back at work'
The Salem News, MA
By Mike Stucka
April 23, 2008
[Excerpts] The town's former police chief ousted Robert Peachey Jr. from the force. Last night, the present chief was at Peachey's side at Fuller Meadow School when the patrolman - whom the former chief found ill-suited to carry a gun — got his job back. Peachey, 39, quietly shook the hands of Middleton selectmen and then quickly left with Chief James DiGianvittorio. Selectmen reinstated the 10-year police veteran, who was once dubbed "NOT A SUITABLE PERSON" TO CARRY A GUN. Former police Chief Paul Armitage pulled Peachey's firearms license in 2004 after the officer was suspended on domestic abuse charges. A judge later CLEARED PEACHEY of those charges, but Middleton's government argued Peachey shouldn't be armed because he had been in a Tweeter Center brawl that left a man with 15 stitches, and because the patrolman ONCE FIRED HIS GUN IN HIS HOME. However, NO CHARGES were filed against Peachey in those incidents... Peachey said: "I am happy to be back to work and put the past behind me, and now I understand why the town acted as it did and no longer have a problem with their action." Before last night's selectmen's meeting, Town Administrator Ira Singer said that neither Peachey nor the selectmen would answer any questions about his rehiring... Selectmen did not provide a copy of the settlement agreement. Selectmen Chairman Timothy Houten said Peachey was being rehired on the condition he meets all training demands and other requirements, and with an 18-month probation period through June 30, 2010. Houten did not say when Peachey would return in uniform. DiGianvittorio has spent most of his career with the Middleton Police Department working with Peachey, who is the son of another retired police chief. In 2005, an ex-girlfriend who is the mother of two of Peachey's children, printed 200 bumper stickers calling for Peachey to be reinstated. Many of those bumper stickers went to police officers' personal cars in Middleton and surrounding towns. That woman, Stacey MacPherson, did not return a phone call yesterday seeking comment... [Full article here]

Anti-anger class ticket to reuniting fired cop with his job, gun
By Mike Stucka
April 24, 2008
[Excerpts] Ousted Middleton Patrolman Robert Peachey Jr. was compelled to take an anger management class before he could get back his job - and his gun. According to a three-page settlement agreement between the officer and the town, Peachey also was required to be screened by a psychologist, Sam Migdole. The settlement agreement was released by the town of Middleton yesterday in response to a public records request from The Salem News. Whether Peachey has already met the requirements of the settlement could not be determined last night. The agreement prohibits Peachey, the town and the police union from discussing their settlement, which could end a lawsuit and a pending arbitration case... The settlement agreement between Peachey and the town laid out five conditions for the patrolman's rehiring:
  • Peachey has to finish an anger management course selected by him, the town of Middleton and police Chief James DiGianvittorio.
  • Migdole has to evaluate Peachey's fitness for duty.
  • If Migdole determines that Peachey is fit for duty, the police chief will review the psychologist's evaluation and determine whether to issue a gun permit to Peachey.
  • If a gun permit is issued, Peachey will be rehired and placed on 11/2 years of probation, "during which time his employment could be terminated for any reason." He would be rehired as a patrolman, the same status he had in 2004.
Once Peachey is reinstated, he would end his Superior Court case trying to get his gun license back, and the Middleton police union would end its arbitration case over Peachey.
As part of the settlement, all parties involved agreed not to make any public comments about the case, other than those set forth in a press release. If Peachey is not rehired, the lawsuit and arbitration cases can continue, and everyone involved is allowed to discuss what happened... [Full article here]

[TX] Officer Caran Coward killed in husband's murder-suicide

..."There were some problems along the way, but nobody expected this to happen," Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack said... There had been some family or marital problems and that’s all I know at this time”... One of the couple's three children, who was inside the home during the shooting, called 911 to report finding their father in a pool of blood, Hammack said, and he added that police believe the weapon was a shotgun...

Livingston Officer Killed
KTRE, TX
by Tashun Chism
04/28/08
Flags all over Livingston are flying at half staff today in honor of Caran Coward, the Livingston police officer who was found dead over the weekend... Polk County Sheriff's Department officials say Officer Coward was on duty Saturday night when she got a call from her husband, Randy Coward. Both she and her husband were found dead outside her Polk County home. Authotirities believe officer Coward's husband killed her with a shot gun and then turned the gun on himself. They say the couple was going through a divorce. "There were some problems along the way, but nobody expected this to happen," Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack said... Coward is remembered as a good officer and an even better person. Fellow law enforcement officers know danger comes with the job, but knowing her death could have been a result of domestic violence makes it even harder for them to deal with. "It brings us back to reality to start with to show that police are just other citizens within the county and the city that we're not immune to domestic violence," Sheriff Hammack told us. Caran Coward leaves behind three children. If you would like to make a donation to help officer coward's family, please contact the Livingston Police Department or the First National Bank in Livingston. [Full article here]
Colleagues recall slain Livingston officer's dedication Detectives believe Caran Renee Coward was slain by her husband who then took his own life
Houston Chronicle
By Mike Glenn and Anita Hassan
April 27, 2008
As Polk County sheriff's detectives continued their investigation into the death of Livingston police officer Caran Renee Coward, apparently slain by her husband who then took his own life, her colleagues on Sunday said she was a dedicated officer who had a strong, unwavering bond with her community. "She was just real good with the public. She was real caring," said Mike deVilleneuve, who recently retired after spending more than 30 years as a Livingston police officer. Coward had been on the force for about three years and was the only female officer in the close-knit department. "She did the best job she could. She was always willing to learn more," deVilleneuve recalled... Randy Phillip Coward, 43, was also found dead from a gunshot wound. Coward, 39, was found about 8 p.m. Saturday in a travel trailer outside her home in the 300 block of Knob Hill, about 75 miles north of downtown Houston... One of the couple's three children, who was inside the home during the shooting, called 911 to report finding their father in a pool of blood, Hammack said, and he added that police believe the weapon was a shotgun. Coward was on duty when she was killed... Valerie Reddell, a friend of Caran Coward's, said she was unaware of any problems the couple was having. Reddell, also the Polk County Enterprise editor, said Randy Coward was a musician and a Christian Country Music Association award winner. She said he did construction work on the side. The last time they spoke, Caran Coward told Reddell that her husband had broken his foot on a construction job and that the injury had affected his ability to earn a living both in music and construction, prompting her to take on extra police assignments... Reddell said she'll remember Caran Coward for always treating people with respect. "She was courteous and kind to everybody," she said. "She is a shining example of everything a woman officer brings to law enforcement".... [Full article here]
On Duty Officer Murdered by Husband During Domestic Dispute
Houston Chronicle
April 28, 2008
... Authorities said they think she was killed by her husband, Randy Phillip Coward, 43, who was also found dead from a gunshot wound in the trailer. One of the couple’s three children, who was inside the home during the shooting, called 911 to report finding their father in a pool of blood, Hammack said, and he added that police believe the weapon was a shotgun.... "I'm not sure why she went home at this time... There had been some family or marital problems and that’s all I know at this time,” [Polk County Sheriff Kenneth] Hammack said... The three children – two boys and a girl – are being taken to their grandmother’s home. [Full article here]

[IL] Chicago Police Officer Branch has a HISTORY of domestic incidents

Prosecutors claim Branch has a history of domestic incidents and his wife claims he once told her that if she ever cost him his job he would kill her... He allegedly grabbed his wife by the neck and slapped her, then pointed his gun at the male victim...

I've been waiting to see if I could catch any news on the court hearing that was to take place last week - but can't find it in the news so I'm posting this without any update.

Cop relieved of police powers after domestic incident

Chicago Sun-Times
April 2, 2008
A Cook County judge ordered a Chicago Police officer to surrender his gun and stay away from his estranged wife after he allegedly attacked her and another man Tuesday morning on the South Side. Englewood District Officer Donald Branch was ordered held on a $150,000 bond and Cook County Associate Judge Israel Diserto said that because of his dangerous, violent and outrageous actions, he must have no contact or communication with his wife, must surrender his gun and FOID card, and must abstain from drugs and alcohol, according to Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton. Branch, 37, is charged with three counts of felony official misconduct, and one count each of misdemeanor domestic battery. The officer was on-duty and armed with his service weapon when he allegedly went to his wife’s house about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday and spotted her and another man exiting her home, prosecutors claimed. The couple has been separated and living in separate residences for about a year. Branch allegedly went to confront the pair and began to unholster his weapon. He allegedly grabbed his wife by the neck and slapped her, then pointed his gun at the male victim, court records said. The man ran northbound down Elizabeth Street and Branch allegedly chased him while pointing his gun at him. Branch's partner was allegedly calling for Branch to stop and then got into their unmarked squad car to go find his partner, court records said. Branch's wife called police. Branch lost sight of the man in a nearby alley and returned to his wife's home on foot, where he grabbed a shovel and smashed the windows of the man's truck. His wife suffered lacerations from the glass to her right hand and arm... Prosecutors claim Branch has a history of domestic incidents and his wife claims he once told her that if she ever cost him his job he would kill her, prosecutors said... [Full article here]
Chicago cop accused in confrontation is relieved of duty
Officer's estranged wife was slapped, then thrown to ground, police say
Chicago Tribune
By Monique Garcia
April 2, 2008
...Donald Branch, a 16-year veteran assigned to the Englewood District, also appeared in court Tuesday and was ordered to surrender his Firearm Owner's Identification card as a condition of his bail. Prosecutors allege that Branch, 37, and his partner were on a plainclothes detail in an unmarked car when Branch went to his wife's home in the 11600 ) block of South Elizabeth Street around 9:45 a.m. Monday. The wife and the male friend were leaving the house when Branch approached the woman and started to take his service weapon out of its holster, said Assistant State's Atty. Michael Evans She screamed for Branch to stop when he put his hands around her neck, slapped her in the face and threw her to the ground... "This is a very severe and violent crime," Evans said Tuesday. "It's outrageous conduct; it's brazen conduct by an officer on duty with his service weapon"... Branch and his wife have been separated for about a year and have three children... A judge set his bail at $150,000... [Full article here]
Judge Orders Accused Officer To Surrender Gun
WMAQ-TV
April. 3, 2008
CHICAGO - A Cook County judge ordered a Chicago police officer to surrender his gun and stay away from his estranged wife after he allegedly attacked her and another man Tuesday morning on the South Side. Englewood District Officer Donald Branch was ordered held on $150,000 bond by Cook County Associate Judge Israel Diserto, who said that because of his dangerous, violent and outrageous actions, he must have no contact or communication with his wife, must surrender his gun and FOID card, and must abstain from drugs and alcohol, according to Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton. Branch, 37, is charged with three counts of felony official misconduct and one count each of misdemeanor domestic battery. "This is a very severe, violent crime," Assistant State's Attorney Michael Evans said... Responding officers arrived to find Branch and the woman arguing in the front yard. Evans cited "previous incidents" when police were called to the wife's house... The incident is being investigated by Chicago police and the city Independent Police Review Authority. Herbert said Branch and his wife have been married for 13 years and lived together until a few months ago. They have children and "communicate with each other several times a day," he said. Diserto scheduled his next court appearance for April 23... [Full article here]
Cop charged with attacking estranged wife, smashing car
ON DUTY | Officer chased her friend, pointed gun at him, prosecutor says
Chicago Sun-Times
BY ERIC HERMAN Criminal Courts Reporter eherman@suntimes.com
April 3, 2008
... Branch is a 16-year police veteran who worked out of the 7th District. He is now on "no-pay status" and has been relieved of his police powers... Branch's lawyer, Dan Herbert, disputed prosecutors' version of events. He described Branch as a "highly decorated Chicago Police officer" and a "good man." At a court hearing Wednesday, Judge Israel Desierto set Branch's bond at $150,000. Branch posted 10 percent and got out of jail Wednesday afternoon... [Full article here]

Monday, April 28, 2008

[MI] Sgt Cobb - arrested in plot that killed his wife Rose, has been released

..."We don't like it, but we understand the process. The only thing, at this point, that is going to make us happy is for Sgt. Cobb to be charged and put away for a very long time"...

Previous blog entries:
Police Dept. suspends cop accused of hiring hitman to kill wife without pay
Detroit Free Press
By NAOMI R. PATTON
April 24, 2008
A Detroit police officer, accused of hiring a man to kill his wife in January, was suspended without pay by the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners this afternoon. Sgt. David Cobb, 38, was arrested at his home on Detroit’s east side Sunday morning after an alleged hit man, arrested Saturday, told police the sergeant hired him to kill his wife, Rose Cobb, 47. But Cobb has not been charged with hiring the hit man, because Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said: "There is no admissible evidence to charge him at this time." He was released from jail Tuesday. Fred Walker, an attorney with the Detroit Police Lieutenants & Sergeants Association representing Cobb at the board meeting, argued that Cobb deserved to keep his pay, because he “has not been charged.with any crime.” Despite Cobb’s release, Vincent Smothers, 27, of Shelby Township, who told police he is a professional hit man responsible for seven killings, was charged Tuesday in 36th District Court with first-degree murder charge for Rose Cobb’s Dec. 26 shooting death. A second man, Marzell Black, 20, of Detroit, was arraigned on a charge of solicitation of a murder... [Full article here]

Cop goes free in his wife's slaying Worthy says case short on evidence
Detroit Free Press
By Ben Schmitt & Eric D. Lawrence
April 23, 2008
When Taneeka Gary got a personal phone call from the Wayne County prosecutor Tuesday morning, she was devastated to hear that the Detroit police sergeant held as a suspect in her aunt's slaying was walking free... the news still brought the family of victim Rose Cobb to tears. "It is very disheartening that he is arrested one minute and then released"... Despite Cobb's release, Vincent Smothers, 27, of Shelby Township, who told police he is a professional hit man responsible for seven killings, was arraigned in 36th District Court on Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the Dec. 26 shooting death of Rose Cobb. A second man, Marzell Black, 20, of Detroit, was arraigned on a charge of solicitation of a murder... Police said Smothers told them David Cobb offered him $10,000 to kill Rose Cobb. "The only evidence that was presented to us that connects Sgt. Cobb with this murder are the statements of defendants Smothers and Black," [Prosecutor Kym] Worthy said. "Under the law, Smothers and Black cannot be compelled to testify." According to a report in the court file, David Cobb was dating Marzell Black's mother, Sheila Black, while he was married to Rose Cobb. Sheila Black told police that David Cobb asked her if she knew someone with a gun. She said no, according to the investigator's report, but her son may. She said she introduced Cobb to her son, Marzell Black. The report says Shelia Black told police that Cobb told her to open a bank account so he could deposit money in it for Marzell Black... Marzell Black acted as the go-between and drove Smothers to the killing site, a CVS pharmacy... David Cobb met twice with Smothers to plan the slaying and supplied him with gloves, according to the report. He also told Smothers to throw away the gun, the report indicates... Gary, Rose Cobb's niece, said Worthy assured her that the investigation is not over. "We don't like it, but we understand the process. The only thing, at this point, that is going to make us happy is for Sgt. Cobb to be charged and put away for a very long time." Gary said she spoke to David Cobb hours after the shooting, and he was evasive. "His exact words were: 'I'm really tired, and I'm gonna take a nap,' " Gary said. "It's like he was avoiding us."... [Full article here]

[CT] Cop Gitting's dv? Hands spanked, he's back to work

Previous entries:
Officer returning following discipline
June hearing set for appeal of suspension

Republican-American (Waterbury, CT)
QUANNAH LEONARD
April 18, 2008

SEYMOUR - Police Officer Richard Gittings has completed his three-month suspension and will return to work Monday.

Gittings was officially due back Wednesday, but he took off a few days and will start Monday, said Lt. Paul Satkowski, police department spokesman.

Gittings has an appeal pending on his suspension. A hearing has been set for mid-June before the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration.

In January, Gittings ' attorney, Gregory Cerritelli, and the Seymour Police Union filed paperwork with the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration, requesting a hearing on the suspension.

The Board of Police Commissioners in January stripped Gittings of his stripes for six months following the suspension, and said it will determine whether to reinstate his rank after that.

The board also ruled 3-2 that Gittings violated the department duty manual for repeated offenses of conduct unbecoming an officer and for violating the oath of office and the code of ethics. The charges stemmed from an Aug. 15 domestic dispute between Gittings and his wife, Laurie Anne, both of 11 Glen Circle Drive.

Both were charged with breach of peace. The charges were later nolled [PROSECUTION WAS DROPPED] in Milford Superior Court.

[WA] 1000 stories are not enough to help victims of cop dv

LOOKING FOR A BRAME STORY?
DAVID ZEECK; THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Published: April 27th, 2008 01:00 AM
[Excerpts] Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of the day Tacoma Police Chief David Brame fatally wounded his wife, Crystal Judson Brame, and then shot and killed himself... We asked ourselves, looking back at the shootings, how we wanted to mark that date. I think it's the most-covered story in my 14 years at the TNT. Our archive shows 972 stories with the name David Brame in them. There are 391 that mention Crystal Brame... however one measures it, that's a lot of stories. Maybe that's enough. Karen Peterson, the managing editor; Randy McCarthy, our crime, courts and breaking-news editor; and I decided not to go out of our way to revisit that day or those events... [Full article here]

Once Crystal and David were gone, Tacoma was in shock. The mantra amongst us all that rose above all else, was that we could never let what happened to Crystal happen again. It wasn't the fatal shot as much as the complete abandonment she suffered in her time of greatest, knowing fear. It wasn't only that she had been murdered, but as the story quickly unfolded it appeared to ordinary citizens like myself that she didn't matter to any of the people who potentially had the power to help her. Crystal wasn't one of the victims that resigns to dying. She wanted to live.

I'm told that Tacoma's Mayor Bill Baarsma wept on the desk of someone he trusted and was pointed to Attorney Debra Hannula as the one to annoint with the task of forming a committee that would work towards making sure no victims relived Crystal's lonely, terrified, & officially unprotected fate. Hannula was to be Moses for the victims in the shadows afraid to approach traditional domestic violence services. Mayor Baarsma decreed that a road to legislation would be sought that could give "special protections" for officer-involved domestic violence victims. Hannula said that government needs to make sure that “other Crystals will be heard and will be protected.” According to news reports, she was "looking for safe ways that police spouses can report abuse and get help."

She said the question to answer was,
“HOW DO YOU PROTECT SOMEONE LIKE CRYSTAL BRAME?”

Our current Governor Christine Gregoire , was then our Attorney General, and said in a way that you belived her:
“...THE REAL POINT OF THIS INVESTIGATION IS THAT AN INNOCENT LIFE WAS LOST WITH THE MURDER OF CRYSTAL BRAME. WE NEED TO FIND OUT WHY AND MAKE SURE THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN...”

The News Tribune's Lisa Kremer wrote in one of her 2003 articles,
"WIVES OF POLICE OFFICERS NEED TO BE ABLE TO REPORT ABUSE AND HAVE IT INVESTIGATED BY AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY."

Beyond Brame: Reform report card
The News Tribune
February 2nd, 2004
...REFORM OR PROMISE - An independent reporting system for victims of domestic violence involving city employees.
WHO WANTED IT - Tacoma residents, Tacoma City Council-created committee and Crystal
Brame’s family
BACKGROUND - Victims of police-perpetrated domestic violence say they don’t feel safe reporting abuse to 911 or other traditional channels such as domestic violence hot lines, because they believe they are staffed by their abusers’ friends. Domestic violence experts suggested creating a secure hot line for not only police spouses and partners, but also partners of any city employee. They reasoned that victims in relationships with people in power would have similar concerns.
CURRENT ACTION - None. A hot line for city employees is not part of any plan currently being studied.
STATUS - Unfulfilled...

Reform Report Card
The News Tribune
April 25, 2004
...REFORM OR PROMISE: An independent reporting system for victims of domestic violence involving city employees...
STATUS: No progress on hot line...

Reform report card
The News Tribune
December 26, 2004
...REFORM OR PROMISE: An independent reporting system for victims of domestic violence involving city employees..
STATUS: No progress on hot line...

Community activist Will Baker came before the televised city council meeting with a warning to citizens that the Mayor was only appointing a committee as a strategy to divert attention away from the sins of the city - that the mayor had written a thesis paper on how that is done while in college. I can't judge another man's heart, but what I do know is that it did distract during a crucial time, and that nothing was ever done towards the original outcry or stated purpose of his committee. It "morphed" into something else.

It can still be made right. I don't want to see the goal as failed, just delayed.

This is maybe the only piece where I haven't ALSO counted up a list of the ACCOMPLISHMENTS achieved, accomplishments both small and mighty. Like Mr. Zeeck, there are some things at the 5th-year point that make me weary too. Graciousness is one of them.

I have some things it's time to share that I'll be adding to the comment section over at least some days.

Stay safe, be kind, and let others know how much they matter to you. [rant police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities murder washington state victims politics]

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Candlelight Vigil

FROM CANDLELIGHT VIGIL ON THE DAY MARKING 5 YEARS SINCE CRYSTAL JUDSON WAS FATALLY SHOT BY HER POLICE CHIEF HUSBAND DAVID BRAME IN HIS MURDER-SUICIDE.

CRYSTAL'S FATHER, LANE JUDSON:
"...WE NEEDED TO HAVE SOMETHING POSITIVE COME OUT OF THIS,
AND IT HAS"

CRYSTAL'S MOTHER, PATTY JUDSON:
"IF WE CAN HELP SOMEONE OUT THERE, WE WANT TO DO THAT."

Renee Harrington takes a Crystal Judson pause - giving voice to victims of OIDV

EXCERPT FROM THE MICHIGAN OFFICER INVOLVED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WEBSITE, MODERATED BY RENEE:

Saturday, April 26
IN MEMORY OF...

...Since Crystal's murder, her parents Lane and Patty Judson and Deon Gates [National OIDV] have worked diligently to open the eyes of people everywhere to the plight of victims of Officer-Involved Domestic Violence. And most importantly, they have directed their tireless efforts and voices to bringing about change for victims of OIDV.

I want people to remember...to take pause...and to remember the real reason we are here, when they come to this site during the anniversary week of Crystal's murder. We're not just a resource site; we are here to give voice to the victims of OIDV and to the surviving family members of OIDV murders.

We are desperately trying to get your attention: DO YOU HEAR US NOW? PLEASE DON'T ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE! SILENCE AND IGNORANCE ABOUT OFFICER-INVOLVED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ONLY SERVES ONE PURPOSE: TO PERPETUATE OIDV.

Victims of OIDV are at war, simply to survive with their lives. Unfortunately, not all OIDV victims escape with their lives...

[SEE THE FULL BLOG POST HERE.]

A call for unresolved officer-involved domestic violence deaths

An investigative news program from a major television network is seeking stories of unresolved deaths in the families or relationships of law enforcement officers. No, they aren't trying to stir up somethng. It has been brought to their AWARENESS of how MANY there are. (There are many.) I'm compiling a list of those cases now - so if you know someone that you'd like me to include with those submissions please contact me.
There are NO PROMISES, but they definitely would like to speak to the families.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Gift of words - from survivors and activists to the parents of Crystal Judson



Intro by Renee' Harrington
IN MEMORY OF 

"April 26th [2008] is the five-year anniversary of Crystal Judson's OIDV murder. On April 26, 2003 Crystal's ex-husband, Chief David Brame [Tacoma Washington PD] shot and killed Crystal. It was the shot that was heard around the world by victims and survivors of Officer-Involved Domestic Violence.
Since Crystal's murder, her parents Lane and Patty Judson and Deon Gates [National OIDV] have worked diligently to open the eyes of people everywhere to the plight of victims of Officer-Involved Domestic Violence. And most importantly, they have directed their tireless efforts and voices to bringing about change for victims of OIDV.
I want people to remember...to take pause...and to remember the real reason we are here, when they come to this site during the anniversary week of Crystal's murder. We're not just a resource site; we are here to give voice to the victims of OIDV and to the surviving family members of OIDV murders."

To the Family of Crystal Judson
My heart broke for you when you lost your beautiful Crystal. I know first hand the nightmare of dealing with an abusive police officer and often thought "that could have been me".
My thoughts and prayers are with you today. I know that nothing anyone can say can take away the pain, but know that there are many people sending you much love today!
Happy Birthday Crystal, you are in the arms of the angels!
~ Jennifer

Dear Mr. Judson,
As an advocate for survivors (and victims) of domestic violence, I want to tell you your work is astounding and groundbreaking in what it will do to help in the area of this society's attitude about domestic violence...
Part of the problem is our society's attitude toward DV and you are doing so much to change that.  Bless your poor daughter and her children.   And blessings to you and your wife.  I heard today is her birthday and, having a husband who lost his wife and sons who lost their Mom when she was just 33, I know holidays and birthdays are difficult.
I'm praying for you and your family, and the important work you continue to do.
Many Blessings,
Julie

To Crystals Family..
My Thoughts and Prayers are with you today and every day. I want to Thank you for all you have accomplished towards Domestic Violence. You have reached out to others when doors have closed. Even though your own heart aches yours is always open to someone elses. And when a tear may fall upon a cheek, your eyes do not see a smile from the words they may hear you speak. God Bless you
Lori
DV Survivor

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lane
I know that, it is still very difficult for both of you for the lost of your daughter.  I remember so well reading about your daughter's story.
As a survivor of domestic violence and still in the _______ State Court fighting for my justice, I have such a sense of guilt and extremely sadden for you and your family because, I am still here fighting for my justice.
I am truly sorry for all your pain.  My prayers are with you and the children always.
Respectably yours
RTS

From: Shields for Christ
Today I sat and really took my time to see your page. My heart broke on the story about Crystal. What a terrible waste such a beautiful woman. My heart goes out to her family. Here in San Antonio I make it a point to seek out anyone that might be or are in domestic violence. God did not instruct men to treat the precious gift (wife) He has given them that way. We are to adore, love and protect them. I am so sorry your city had to go through this. I pray that this will never happen again there or anywhere else.<><

Mr. and Mrs. Judson,
I am very sorry for what happened to your daughter.  I myself was a victim of sort.  My girlfriend was murdered by her ex-husband. The coward didn't kill himself. He had a very shady background and should never had been given a job in law enforcement. I would love to discuss the situation with you and maybe get some ideas on how to help support your cause.
Thank you for your time.

From Miriam Barnet
As the Executive Director of the YWCA, I am committed to spending my time, energy and money to find additional resources for women who are victims of DV.  The YWCA is working hard towards a dream of a new campus to serve women who are fleeing domestic violence.  Our current facility was designed by visionary women in 1927.  It was not designed as a shelter.  It was designed as a place where single traveling women could be safe for the night.  It is time to be visionary again.  We need better space, more space and new space for women and children in need of safe space.

I would like to share this powerful quote [by Jill Ruckelshaus] which was read at the YWCA fundraising luncheon on April 23.

We are in for a very, very long haul.
 I am asking for everything you have to give.
We will never give up.
You will lose your youth, your sleep, your patience, your sense of humor and occasionally the understanding and support of people that you love very much.
In return I have nothing to offer you but your pride in being a woman, and all your dreams you've ever had for your daughters, and nieces, and granddaughters,
your future and the certain knowledge that at the end of your days you will be able to look back and say that once in your life you gave everything you had for justice.

We must continue to work together and give everything we have for justice.  Until the day comes when domestic violence ends, our energy, our passion and our commitment to the cause must keep going strong.  As Naomi Tutu said at our luncheon, “If we can end apartheid, we can end domestic violence.”  We must never lose hope that this could be true.
With hope that we will someday have peace, justice, dignity, freedom and safety for all people,

Miriam Barnett
Executive Director
YWCA Pierce County
253 272 4181 ext 223

Just wanted to tell the Judson’s this:
There will never be another Crystal, but look at the wonderful memories she left for the world.
Crystal left us a beautiful legacy in her children, and her bravery gave us agents for change in her parents.
I always have a Purple adornment on my person to remind me of Crystal.
China Fortson

To Patty and Lane Judson
5 Years, WOW!
For me it still seems like yesterday, i remember the intense fear i felt. I was wrapped up in trying to be strong, protecting myself and my children... I felt so alone, afraid for my life. When i heard about Cystal, it was surreal. I had always thought i was the only one to experience abuse by a police officer. I was glued to her story, i cried for her for days... screaming in pain for her children. Crystal's story gave me the strength to continue to fight for the lives of my children.
I have changed, my children aren't in danger anymore, and now...thanks to Deon, i have others who i can talk to, share stories with and hopefully support others who are in need.
It's so good to be here...
From C in WA

MR. JUDSON,
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE AWARD!! IT IS SO WELL DESERVED ON ALL YOUR WORK YOU HAVE DONE ON CRYSTALS BEHALF. IF WE COULD ONLY HELP MORE WOMEN WITH THERE TROUBLED SITUATIONS. AND LET THEM KNOW THAT THEY ARE NOT ALONE AND THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE FOR THEM AND THAT THEY DONT NEED TO STAY IN THOSE SITUATIONS. I MYSELF AM SO HAPPY THAT I LEFT WHEN I DID YEARS AGO BEFORE MY LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN, NOW MY DAUGHTER AND I HAVE LIVED 14 YEARS PEACEFULLY AND SHE IS A CHEMICAL ENGINEER. SHE STILL HAS FEARS AND PROBLEMS TO OVER COME FROM SEEING AND HEARING MY ABUSE BUT WE ARE HERE. AND I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING U ARE DOING!!!!
GOD BLESS YOU SO MUCH!!!
LOVE YOU!
L

For Crystal's parents:
"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
My hope for you both, and for the many, many other victims of law enforcement and military DV, is that with Crystal's spirit guiding you and the power of the universe behind you, that changes to attitudes and to the law will happen - that these changes will be universal and forever. That ANYONE suffering from DV, past, present and future, will know that there IS help, that millions of us care enough to stand up and say "ENOUGH" and that Crystal mattered...she mattered a lot.
With loving-kindness,
Fiona (Australia)

FROM A POLICE_DV GROUP MEMBER:
{Contributed by a member that gets PLENTY press herself.}
I'm writing to express my condolences on this difficult anniversary of Ms Judson's death. I'm sorry for her family and for all those who experience grief since this tragedy occurred but am glad to see that the issue of domestic violence and misogyny against women shown by LE officers is getting addressed, although it shouldn't take tragedies plus hard work from community activists to persuade governmental officials and police agencies to do the right thing. That should come from a good heart, but we all know that's not what usually happens... Thanks for the support. I did get some local press looking into the issue involving the detective so hopefully some heat will be put on the city if they do even think of settling the case. I'm hoping he didn't win his arbitration hearing or something like that which makes settlement much more likely. In California, it's next to impossible to find out the truth in relation to personnel issues with LE officers especially investigations, discipline, appeals, etc.
Crystal Judson's murder is a reminder of how important it is to view officers' mistreatment of women as something to address and expose and deal with rather than cover up and pretend it doesn't happen. Women and men everywhere need to keeping fighting this fight.

From: JUSTICE FOR BARBARA
Dear Lane and Patty,
I did not know that today is Crystal's birthday. Shortly before Deon sent this bulletin out, I visited your website and Crystal's page. Knowing that the 26th is near, and that May 8th is, as well, I uploaded over 50 photos, the first being Crystal. I created a special photo album with which I was carefully planning a new "Bobbi" tradition...a tradition I decided a few days ago to implement on Bobbi's page, beginning on April 26th.

Before I could complete the new photo album, Deon posted this bulletin and the news of Crystal's birthday completely sidetracked me. Therefore, the tradition I planned to start on the 26th was moved. I have replaced Bobbi's profile photo with Crystal's...Crystal's photo will replace Bobbi's through the 26th.

I know that there is not much one can say to ease the pain and anxiety you will endure this week. But, I do want you to know that I keep you all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.

Two weeks from today will be the 27 year anniversary of Bobbi's death and I can already feel the emotions, associated with the upcoming date, that you are so familiar with. For my family, this year is different and very significant, as Aaron Foster has finally been brought to justice to answer for his crime.

Deon is the first person I met on the internet, even before I came to MySpace. I remember the day I first learned of Crystal...before I met Deon. And, I remember Deon learned of Bobbi before she met me. Before I met Deon, I used to watch her slideshow (and listen to that, simply, beautiful little piano song) over and over and over, again. Then, one day, I recieved a letter from Deon. She was planning to write "the most extensive article she's written on her blog" about Bobbi. I was so touched...and, today, I consider Deon one of my dearest friends (even though we've never met in person).

Crystal, Deon, and the two of you have served as, and taught me the definition of, true inspiration...

God Bless you!
Love always,
Patty

Lane and Patty,
One of the greatest honors I have ever had, was when I spoke with both of you on the phone in November of 2007.I had first seen the both of you on TV, speaking out about your daughter Crystal's murder and about officer-involved domestic violence about four years ago....and I have never been so moved. I sobbed over Crystal's murder...I sobbed over your family's loss of Crystal...and I sobbed when you gallantly spoke out, because I had never before heard anyone publicly talk about the taboo subject of police domestic violence.

In 1998, I was almost killed by my ex-boyfriend, a sheriff deputy. I was so emotionally beaten up by the sheriff department and the community for daring to have my abuser arrested, that I had begun to believe that I would just have to learn to live with the consequences. There was not one aspect of my life that had not been shredded to bits and destroyed because of my decision to fight for justice...and I was just going to have to learn to deal with the consequences of my decision to speak out.

I probably would have continued in that downward spiral of self hatred, shame, disgust, and of having given up on myself, if it had not been for the both of you. For the first time in years, I felt hope that I would once again be able to live the life that I had worked hard for and which I deserved. The both of you lit a fire under me and motivated me in more ways than you can imagine.

In my endeavors to reclaim my life, I was fortunate to stumble upon the incredible and wonderful Deon Gates...who has not only guided me, but has held fastly to my hand [refusing to let go], during this entire journey. And what a journey Deon and I have been on together...with the both of you as my guiding light.

In 1998, after Deputy Parker was arrested for his attempt on my life, I was told that I would be blackballed forever from ever working in law enforcement or victimology. In 2007, I applied my knowledge from previously having written two dv/crime victim programs for Monroe County Michigan...and I authored a rough draft of the Michigan Officer-Involved Domestic Violence [OIDV] legislation.

In 1998, I had been told that no one cared about what I or other victims of officer-involved domestic violence endured. I was also told that no one would listen to me. In 2007, I had the opportunity to speak to numerous Michigan state legislators about officer-involved domestic violence ...and not only did they listen, but they cared - they were outraged at the injustices that these victims are subjected to.

In 1998, I was told that I would never again be able to work with dv/crime victims, because of what I did to Deputy Parker [had him arrested for his attempt on my life]. In 2007, with the help of Deon and her incredible officer-involved domestic violence research, I began the Michigan Officer Involved Domestic Violence website that concentrated on my former state.

In 2007, I reached out and for the first time since 1998, I was able to do my heart's passion...the job I was blackballed from for life: victimology. I had the honor of advocating for the Aukerman family, after Pam Aukerman was brutally murdered by her ex-husband, Officer Kevin Brainard [Plainwell, MI].

When Pam's community began downplaying the domestic violence and began blaming Pam for her own murder, I knew what I would have to do: publicly speak out for the first time since 1998. I thought of how your speaking out had effected my life and thousands of other officer-involved domestic violence victim's lives. It ended up being the first time that the media in Michigan covered the subject of officer-involved domestic violence ...and also how domestic violence agencies regularly deny these victims assistance.

But the most important thing to come out of that first interview that I saw of the both of you, was when I handed down the same gift of voice you had given me, to Jen Aukerman [sister of Pam Aukerman]. Jen had wanted to speak out about officer-involved domestic violence and her sister's murder, but being in the middle of a custody battle over her slain sister Pam's daughter, the attorneys were telling her she had to remain silent. Jen was frustrated that she was being silenced... but at the same time, she didn't want to jepordize the custody case.

Jen was so moved by your daughter Crystal's journal, that she decided to be interviewed by the media in January 2008... but only on her terms: OIDV would be addressed; OIDV was to be recognized as different from general domestic violence; and the need for OIDV laws and programs would be addressed - along with how dv agencies were denying victims of OIDV assistance. Jen's interview was incredible! She is one of the most incredible voices for victims of OIDV.

Your gift of voice for us didn't stop there. After speaking with you on the phone, Laura Spars [Pam's BESTEST friend] was so motivated, that she began the Michigan Officer-Involved Domestic Violence Corp. We are on our way to making a difference for other victims of OIDV, and to think, it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't seen the both of you speaking out after Crystal's murder.

I cannot imagine how incredibly difficult Crystal's murder must be for the both of you, but I just needed to assure you that you are making a difference for hundreds, maybe thousands of these formerly ignored victims everywhere...and for that, I thank you. Thank you for seeing through your pain and suffering in order to unselfishly devote your lives to giving others life and for lending us your voice. Thank you for rescuing me and refusing to give up on me.

Renee' Harrington, Michigan  OIDV Corp
Silence: the number one killer of victims of officer involved domestic violence

From: SJ
...I love where I am in my life.  Hooray to you for doing this.  Hooray to you for creating an awareness that this problem even exists....

I am so sorry for your loss.  There simply are no words to ease the anguish of losing a loved one from any kind of violence, much less from a trusted, loved person who can become so changed.

I was married for 17 years to a man who had been a police officer for 13 years before I met him.  He then became a fire department battalion chief, and retired after about 17 years.  Although there were times during our 17 years together when our life together was bearable, much of it was violent and angry and hurtful.  Although we did not have children together, he had 3 who lived with their mother, I had one who lived with us.  I have wondered MANY times what kind of damage I did to my son growing up in a home with such bitterness and anger.

After 3 years of marriage, it became so apparent things were not good.  At that time he was arrested for DV and ordered to go to Anger Management.  The only purpose that served was to make him MORE angry!  I should have left then.  The next 14 years were a living hell.  He finally took a vacation without me, and during that time, I found the courage to leave him, and I moved out.

I spent the next five years in a bitter divorce. About the time I would believe it was over, it wasn't.  He just wanted revenge, and wanted to do all in his power to hurt me - physically, financially, mentally....  whatever would work.  The last eight years found me working, buying my own house, cars, pets....  I discovered me.  I discovered what peace there was in not having someone badger you with hatred.  I sit for HOURS just rocking and listening to the sound of silence.  And I am so happy for that.

I found when I went to find help, a whole lot of lip-service, and no honest to goodness nuts and bolts concrete HELP.  A place to stay.  A person to listen.  A person to help me load furniture, and possessions.  Someone to help me with the very basics of life.  Someone who would somewhat take charge, or give me a list of decisions I needed to make.  I was completely exhausted, and had no idea what to do or where to go.  I had been married for 17 years!   I had no idea how to go about applying for credit or locating an apartment.  I moved at night in the cold November darkness - alone.  I never felt so all alone, and I was terrified if anyone found my dark, deep secret, they would tell him, and he would kill me.

I will never completely get over those hurts, but I am ALIVE again.  I am at peace.  I am happy.  I love where I am in my life.  Hooray to you for doing this.  Hooray to you for creating an awareness that this problem even exists.  This man had absolute power over people he didn't like.  He could arrest them.  Take away their freedom.  He was a chief.  He had POWER and he had AUTHORITY.  He  could truly make people's lives hell, and he carried that power and authority to a detrimental end to his marriage.  No person, man or woman, should have to live like that.  Too many do.

Bless you, and the good deeds you do.  Your daughter was beautiful.  What a waste.  Keep the peace.
~SJ

From Cloudwriter
Lane and Patty, Jennifer Drake shared that she found the strength to speak out about her own sister's murder when (and because) she read Crystal's journal.

[MI] Sister of murdered cop's wife Pam Aukerman speaks out
..."We need a place where if they walk in that door and say that they're being abused, regardless of who it is, what it is, you know, they are going to get that help"...

There are so many like Jennifer effected by you both and by Crystal.

Crystal DID NOT mean for her journal to serve that purpose, but it has, does, and I'm sure will continue to. Others will gain strength to leave, fight, or flee because of what your daughter left on those pages. Crystal's bravery and her fear are now a lifeline for others. You know how sorry I am that she was stolen from you this way, and at the same time I don't know of any other woman's stolen life that has given others this much motivation to break free or change how things are. More bitter than sweet for you - but her death already is not in vain. So much for so many has come of the collective horror and grief of your loss.

I hope to meet her one day.

And now, how many others have you set on their own paths to make changes? How many people have stood up and stopped being afraid because they've come to love you both, and your daughter? How many have taken action because you made this real for them, or introduced them to the magnitude of the problem and it's deadliness. From what I"ve seen and heard over these past five years I know that the number can't be counted.

In descriptions of you both the word "tireless" has almost become over-used, and it's inaccurate. I know you do tire. I'd say you are both tenacious to fulfull the promise made to Crystal that you would do all you can.

Crystal's tragic loss of her life and her bravery - together with your tenacity to effect the monster that killed your daughter and thousands of others - has lit a fire and made this world we live in more hopeful and a better place.

You're even reaching children. That's a promise of a better tomorrow.

May God mightily bless you both, and bless all that you do.

(You have angels by your side, and one of them is extra pretty.)

Much love,
Me

Friday, April 25, 2008

[FL] Fatima shot her husband Orlando Officer Charles Navicky

"At one point in time a woman living inside the house retreated to, we believe, a bedroom, came back armed with two handguns that were placed behind her back, and actually shot a man inside the home"... "He is very lucky to be alive today and we want to make sure we do everything for him and his family"...

Police: Orlando Officer Shot By Wife
Local6.com, FL
April 24, 2008
OVIEDO, Fla. -- An Orlando police officer was shot and injured by his wife early Thursday during an apparent argument in their home, investigators said. Seminole County sheriff's deputies responded to a disturbance call in the Stillwater subdivision in Oviedo at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. Deputies said when they arrived, they found Orlando Officer Charles Navicky shot and injured. Navicky told officers that he and his wife, Fatima, had a verbal argument and that he called a neighbor to intervene. During the intervention, the woman allegedly grabbed two guns and opened fire on her husband, a Seminole County news release said. Navicky was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds to the arm and forehead. The woman will face charges of attempted murder and domestic violence. There were two children inside the house during the incident. They were not injured. A motive for the shooting was not known.

Officer Shot At Home, Wife Charged
WESH Orlando
April 24, 2008
[Excerpts] ...Someone at a home on Stillwater Drive, just outside of Oviedo, called 911 and hung up around 2:30 Thursday morning. When a dispatcher called back, a child answered the phone and said someone had been shot. Just before the shooting, the couple inside the home had been arguing and a nearby relative came over to offer help, but the argument quickly escalated, deputies said. "At one point in time a woman living inside the house retreated to, we believe, a bedroom, came back armed with two handguns that were placed behind her back, and actually shot a man inside the home," Seminole County Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Lemma said. There were two children in the home at the time of the shooting. They were not injured. "You can imagine with a 9 or 10-year-old, to see this with your own family occur at 2, 2:30 in the morning, what must be going through their minds"... Navicky was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. He was shot in the forearm and a bullet grazed his head. The suspect, Fatima Navicky, was taken to Winter Park Hospital to undergo an evaluation. "He is very lucky to be alive today and we want to make sure we do everything for him and his family," Lemma said. The children are in the care of a relative and child services... [Full article here]