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
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.