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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."

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