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Saturday, December 11, 2004

[MI] After rifle threat deputy's wife Cathleen Muma fights back

...In her protection request against [Chief] Long, [Cathleen] Muma alleged the chief told her she had to better start putting "God and family first" in her life and told her she needed to be a "better wife" to her husband...

Woman gets protection order against husband

She says deputy has been abusive
December 11, 2004
A Manton woman sought personal protection orders against her sheriff's deputy husband and Manton's chief of police. Cathleen Muma, 35, filed protection requests late Wednesday against her husband, Phillip, a deputy with the Wexford County Sheriff's office, and Manton Police Chief Michael Long, a friend of the family. Grand Traverse County Probate Judge David L. Stowe denied the ex-parte request against Long, but granted an order against Phillip Muma, according to 13th Circuit Court records. In the protection request against her husband, Cathleen Muma said he had been abusive in the past but became more aggressive after he had brain surgery in August. In her statement to the court, Muma said on Nov. 5 her husband threatened her with a loaded rifle at the couple's home after she returned from a work trip to Haiti. The next day, she said she fled to a safe house. The alleged domestic problems led to a precautionary lockdown of Manton High School on Monday, after Muma removed her children and told school officials her husband had made threats. In her protection request against Long, Muma alleged the chief told her she had to better start putting "God and family first" in her life and told her she needed to be a "better wife" to her husband. Muma said in the request she was "intimidated" by the police chief giving her orders to run her life. Muma said Long used his position to "gain control" over her work relationships and "threatened" to take her children. But Long said he never threatened Muma and called her place of employment to find out information about the school situation. "The whole thing is sad, but it really didn't have to be that way," he said. "What she says about me is totally untrue. I am bewildered, to be honest with you. "I knew both of them as friends until recently. I think that everybody knows Phil is not like that." Long said he was with Phillip Muma when the lockdown at the school occurred and said he didn't believe Muma posed a danger to anyone. "Two sides of the story is what we are all looking for in the first place, and some things that were said were not true," he said. "I think people are starting to learn the truth of what really happened." [Source]

Monday, November 22, 2004

Media competition helped

...With The News Tribune competing against the larger papers just 30 miles away in Seattle, "Betsy said, 'I don't care what it costs; we are not going to be beat on this story,' " Merryman recalled. "We weren't"...

Colleagues in Tacoma, Wash., laud her integrity, news values
By RICK ROMELL rromell@journalsentinel.com
Nov. 22, 2004
[Excerpts] Elizabeth "Betsy" Brenner, a Washington state native praised by colleagues as a tough-minded but supportive executive, on Monday was named president and publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Brenner comes to Milwaukee from Tacoma, Wash., where she is publisher of The News Tribune, a paper with circulation of 128,000 daily and 143,000 on Sunday. She will succeed Journal Sentinel Publisher Keith Spore, who announced in April that he would retire at year's end... Both Merryman and Zeeck cited Brenner's commitment to the newspaper on a huge story - the 2003 murder of Crystal Brame by her husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, who then killed himself. With The News Tribune competing against the larger papers just 30 miles away in Seattle, "Betsy said, 'I don't care what it costs; we are not going to be beat on this story,' " Merryman recalled. "We weren't."... [Full article here]

Thursday, October 7, 2004

[LA] Louisiana State Trooper Heath Henry Schumacher resigned during probe into his killing girlfriend Tamatha Jo Osborne, but was never charged.

Tamatha "Tammy" Jo Osbourne, 23, of Slidell.

Trooper Heath Schumacher said he shot Tammy Osborne in the head, twice, AFTER he disarmed her.

...Osbourne was pronounced dead at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Sheriff's Office... SCHUMACHER TOLD DETECTIVES OSBORNE FIRED FIRST, BUT HE WAS ABLE TO KNOCK THE GUN AWAY, LEE SAID. THE BULLET LANDED IN THE DOOR FRAME. SCHUMACHER THEN FIRED TWICE, HITTING OSBORNE ONCE IN THE FOREHEAD AND ONCE IN THE CHEEK.... Both guns belong to Schumacher... [Tamatha's sister] Adell Osborne, 41, said Schumacher physically abused and threatened her younger sister. She scoffed at his claim of self-defense...


Man says that he shot in self defense
State trooper kills girlfriend in his apartment, cops say

By Wayne Knabb and Aesha Rasheed
Monday January 12, 2004
A state trooper shot and killed his girlfriend Sunday in his apartment in Metairie, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said. Heath Henry Schumacher, 29, called the Sheriff's Office at 1:39 p.m. and said that he had just shot a woman in Apartment 19 at 2101 Richland Ave., Sheriff Harry Lee said. The woman has been identified as Tamatha Osbourne, 23, of Slidell. Osbourne was pronounced dead at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Sheriff's Office. Lee said that the trooper told police he shot Osbourne in self-defense during an exchange of gunfire between the two. Schumacher was questioned by homicide investigators in the Sheriff's Office, and, based on his account of the shooting and evidence found at the crime scene, no charges will be filed at this time... Osbourne was killed by Schumacher's .40-caliber duty weapon. She fired a semi-automatic handgun. Lee said detectives received two separate accounts that three shots were fired. No special measures will be taken in the investigation, the sheriff said. "It is what it is, no matter who is involved," Lee said. "There will be a full investigation"...

State trooper kills girlfriend in his apartment, cops say - Man says that he shot in self-defense
Author: Wayne Knabb and Aesha Rasheed
January 12, 2004
...The woman has been identified as Tamatha Osbourne, 23, of Slidell. Osbourne was pronounced dead at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds... Schumacher was questioned by homicide investigators in the Sheriff’s Office, and, based on his account of the shooting and evidence found at the crime scene, no charges will be filed at this time...

State Trooper Allegedly Kills Girlfriend In Self Defense
Heath Henry Schumacher Has Not Yet Been Charged
January 12, 2004
...[Sheriff's spokesman Col. John] Fortunato said Schumacher reported the shooting at 1:39 p.m. Sunday and he told authorities that Osbourne first pointed a weapon at him and fired. Osbourne was pronounced dead on the scene of two gunshot wounds. Fortunato said authorities discovered two semiautomatic handguns at the apartment... He said three shots were apparently fired -- one by Osbourne and two by Schumacher. Fortunato said Schumacher would not be booked by the sheriff's office, but the case would be turned over to the Jefferson Parish district attorney...

Trooper, woman fought previously
Disturbance occurred hours before killing

By Michelle Hunter
Tuesday January 13, 2004
Deputies broke up a run-in between a state trooper and his girlfriend the night before he shot and killed her in his Metairie apartment... Osborne allegedly followed Schumacher and another Metairie woman to the parking lot of the Morning Call coffee shop and confronted them, Lee said. Osborne, whose appearance Lee described as "highly intoxicated," jumped onto the hood and into the passenger window of Schumacher's vehicle, scratching the other woman and repeatedly punching him, ACCORDING TO A SHERIFF'S OFFICE REPORT. Neither Schumacher nor the woman pressed criminal charges, and Osborne was allowed to leave the scene by cab, he said... SCHUMACHER TOLD DETECTIVES that Osborne used a knife to inflict a small cut on his hand earlier that day, Lee said. And the COUPLE WAS ALSO SEEN ARGUING JUST MOMENTS BEFORE THE SHOOTING, which took place about 1:30 p.m. in the small downstairs living room of the two-story apartment Schumacher rented. SCHUMACHER TOLD DETECTIVES OSBORNE FIRED FIRST, BUT HE WAS ABLE TO KNOCK THE GUN AWAY, Lee said. The bullet landed in the door frame. SCHUMACHER THEN fired twice, hitting Osborne once in the forehead and once in the cheek, Fortunato said. BOTH GUNS BELONG TO SCHUMACHER... Osborne's relatives spoke out, voicing their dissatisfaction with the Sheriff's Office findings. ADELL OSBORNE, 41, SAID SCHUMACHER PHYSICALLY ABUSED AND THREATENED HER YOUNGER SISTER. SHE SCOFFED AT HIS CLAIM OF SELF-DEFENSE.. SCHUMACHER AND OSBORNE SHARED A HOME at 163 Northwood Drive in Slidell with her two children from a previous marriage, Adell Osborne said. Relatives said OSBORNE BEGAN SHOWING UP WITH BRUISES AND BLACK EYES and told friends that Schumacher HAD THREATENED TO HARM HER IF SHE EVER LEFT HIM, Adell Osborne said. "She wouldn't even know how to fire a gun," Adell Osborne said. "He didn't have to shoot Tamatha." Lee said DETECTIVES ARE CHECKING into the allegations made by Osborne's family...NEIGHBOR REBECCA DICKSON SAID SHE SAW Schumacher and Osborne arguing outside about three months ago. She said Schumacher tried to stop Osborne from driving away and was almost hit by an open car door as Osborne quickly backed out of the driveway...

Times-Picayune January 22, 2004
Tamatha J. "Tammy" Osborne , a homemaker, died Jan. 11 of a gunshot wound in the 2100 block of Richland Avenue in Metairie. She was 33. Ms. Osborne was born in Picayune, Miss., and lived in Slidell for most of her life. Survivors include a son, Vernon L. Orange; a daughter, Amanda L. Orange; two stepdaughters, Krystal and Brittany Orange; two brothers, Phillip Mince and Richard Wislon; and two sisters, Adelle O. Williams and Lana Jean Williams. A memorial service will be Friday at 8 p.m. at Schoen Funeral Home, 3808 Pontchartrain Drive, Slidell. Visitation will be from 7 to 9 p.m.

Investigation Expands In Trooper's Shooting Of Girlfriend
FBI Says Woman May Have Been Coerced
The New Orleans Channel
January 22, 2004
NEW ORLEANS -- The FBI has joined the investigation of a state trooper who admits shooting and killing his girlfriend. Even though Jefferson Parish investigators say it appears that Heath Schumacher, 29, is telling the truth when he says the shooting was in self-defense, Schumacher has been placed on administrative leave and the investigation is expanding... OSBOURN'S FAMILY SAYS IT WAS MURDER SET UP TO LOOK LIKE A CASE OF SELF-DEFENSE... Col. Henry Whitehorn, head of State Police, said Schumacher will be on forced leave during the investigation. He said it appears that Schumacher's relationship with the woman violated agency policy. "We do have a policy that discourages and prohibits those types of activites," Whitehorn said. Lee confirmed that Osbourn made two large cash deposit into her bank account shortly before the shooting. STATE POLICE SAID THEY HAVE HAD PREVIOUS PROBLEMS WITH SCHUMACHER AND WOMEN. "We have investigated at least one prior complaint," Whitehorn said. SCHUMACHER'S FATHER WAS A LONGTIME JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY. Lee said that will have no effect on the investigation...

FBI looks into trooper shooting case - Family: Victim was intimidated
Michelle Hunter East Jefferson bureau
January 22, 2004
The FBI has launched an inquiry into whether a state trooper accused of killing his girlfriend had forced the woman to perform criminal acts... Osborne’s brother, Richard Wilson, said she had asked him to procure drugs for Schumacher’s use. Wilson said Osborne may have been compelled by Schumacher to participate in orgies and drug use. Reigel said such activities would fall under the civil rights investigation, but he stressed that nothing has been verified by [FBI] agents. Schumacher, a State Police narcotics agent, remains on paid leave... Shortly after the shooting, Lee said Schumacher’s claims of self-defense matched evidence found at the scene. Gun residue was on Osborne’s hand, as well as on Schumacher’s hand and face, he said. However, on Wednesday, Lee said the EVIDENCE COULD ALSO SUPPORT a theory floated by Osborne’s relatives that Schumacher killed her and covered up the crime with his law enforcement know-how. "The forensic evidence could also indicate that and five other scenarios," he said...

Getting Away With Murder In New Orleans

Blog: Friday's Child
Friday, January 23, 2004
[Excerpts] ...There are so many more but this rant is brought to you specifically by the Louisiana State Troopers and the ever present law enforcement "code of silence". On January 11th, 2004, a Louisiana State Trooper shot his ex-felon girlfriend, Tamatha Osbourne. He has neither been fired nor arrested! He claims self-defense. Give me a break! First, he wasn't supposed to be living with a convicted felon. Not only was she a convicted felon, her crime was drug dealing - he was on the narcotics squad. Louisiana State Troopers prohibit associating with drug dealers and living with convicted felons. In a press conference a spokesman said that the State Troopers "discouraged" those things. Uh ... excuse me ... prohibit means "NO" and "NO" means "NO"! Duh! A few days later they came back and said she was his informant. Well this might have justified his contact with her but let's not forget, he LIVED with her... Second, the State Trooper said he shot his girlfriend in self-defense and he then returned fire shooting her once in the forehead and once in the cheek. He said he was able to knock the gun from her hand after she shot at him. So why did he then have to pump two bullets into her head when she wasn't armed?... Third, police were called to their apartment the night before on a Domestic Violence incident. There were plenty people interrogated by the police that revealed they were always battling, that she bore bruises and cuts often and that she was terrified of him. One family member revealed she had once said her State Trooper boyfriend said he would kill her if she ever tried to leave him. She had very recently caught him with another woman... She had an ex-boyfriend that she kept in contact with and he has saved phone message from her saying she was unhappy and scared. She told family the State Trooper was extorting money, stealing evidence, etc... I listened for the next several days for further news. There was none and the incident received only a small two-paragraph mention in the local paper. Then about a week later the family of the victim spoke with one of the local news stations and said that she was murdered because she knew too much about his nefarious activities. Several more days passed, nothing. The previous week three Afro-American senior citizens robbed a bank and killed an officer in the process. Within two to three days they were IN COURT. Kill a cop - you're done for. A cop kills you - it's likely he'll go unpunished. I keep thinking to myself, "OMG - he's going to get away with it. They're going to let him get away with it."... Then I hear a report that he wouldn't be charged for murder but for violating her civil rights! What the f...!... So now, three agencies are investigating this case. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office (where the shooting actually took place), The Louisiana State Troopers and The Federal Bureau of Investigation. This makes me nervous as hell. All of them together just might come up with a story like she shot him and the bullets ricocheted off his belt buckle and hit her right in the head -- not once but twice! Or maybe it was a magic bullet and it actually went in her cheek and came out her forehead...

Trooper involved in shooting resigns - Girlfriend shot at Jeff apartment
Michelle Hunter East Jefferson bureau
March 2, 2004
A Louisiana state trooper accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend has RESIGNED RATHER THAN BE FIRED in an internal affairs investigation, State Police said Monday.... Osborne’s aunt, Debbie Orange, said the family is awaiting the outcome of the Sheriff’s Office inquiry and an FBI civil rights probe of allegations that Schumacher used his status as a law enforcement officer to force Osborne to perform criminal acts. "We’re willing to wait so that we can have a better opportunity for him to be prosecuted," she said.

Ex-trooper won't be prosecuted in girlfriend's death
10/7/2004, 8:16 a.m.
The Associated Press
GRETNA, La. (AP) - A former state trooper acted in self-defense and will not be prosecuted for the shooting death of his girlfriend during a domestic dispute, authorities said... Schumacher was never arrested or charged, but the shooting was investigated by the Jefferson Parish sheriff. "We believe that the evidence shows that Schumacher acted in self-defense. And pursuant to Louisiana law, such would be considered a justifiable homicide," Assistant District Attorney Steve Wimberly said...
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Saturday, September 11, 2004

[CT] System works to give back Officer Daley's gun. Victim's safety not mentioned.

...A Superior Court judge issued a partial protective order Aug. 30, barring Daley from actions such as "threatening, harassing (or) stalking" the alleged victim...

[If a cop was threatening you and you saw the whole system was only worried about returning his gun, what realistic choices do you have but to agree to whatever plan they have for him?]

Officer involved in alleged domestic dispute to return to full duty

Stamford Advocate, CT
By Matt Breslow
September 11, 2004
A policeman arrested last week in an alleged domestic dispute can resume patrolling the streets after a judge yesterday rescinded a partial protective order that prevented him from carrying a firearm. City police Officer George Daley, 42, of 71 Lincoln Ave. Ext., was issued a misdemeanor summons Aug. 29 for disorderly conduct and second-degree threatening. Daley had allegedly threatened to assault his ex-girlfriend during a phone conversation with her that morning. A Superior Court judge issued a partial protective order Aug. 30, barring Daley from actions such as "threatening, harassing (or) stalking" the alleged victim, a 43-year-old Norwalk woman. The Norwalk Police Department placed Daley on restricted duty because anyone served with a protective order in Connecticut must surrender all firearms. A hearing on the protective order was scheduled to take place yesterday at state Superior Court. During Daley's court appearance, Assistant State's Attorney Suzanne Vieux told Judge William Hickey that the court's Family Relations Division recommended rescinding the protective order and the alleged victim was amenable to the action. Hickey agreed to withdraw the order, and Vieux requested a transcript of the proceedings to help Daley retrieve the firearms he had surrendered. "Generally, once an officer is no longer subjected to a restraining order, then that officer is restored to full duty," Police Chief Harry Rilling said in an interview yesterday. Rilling said the department is still reviewing the matter to determine whether Daley should face internal discipline. However, the chief said he feels comfortable returning Daley to full duty after the court rescinded the protective order. "That certainly communicates to us that the officer is fit to return to full duty," Rilling said Daley's case was continued until Oct. 26 and referred to Family Relations, which generally attempts to resolve the issues between parties and can recommend dropping the charges. Other possible recommendations included counseling, a diversionary program such as the Pretrial Family Violence Education program or prosecution.
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[FL] Deputy Garrison's wife says he threatened murder-suicide

"For Immediate Release"
Deputy Charged with Aggravated Assault with Firearm
Polk County Sheriff’s Office
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Michal Shanley, (863) 534-6631 OR (863) 819-0397 Pager
Date: September 10, 2004
A Polk County Sheriff's Office deputy was charged last night with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm and transported to a mental health facility for evaluation after threatening to harm himself and his wife. Kevin Garrison, DOB 1/26/54, (address not released due to law enforcement status) was arrested and charged by officers of the Winter Haven Police Department and transported to Winter Haven Hospital for psychological evaluation under provisions of the Baker Act. According to Winter Haven Police, at around 11 p.m. last night (Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004) Garrison was sitting in his living room and holding a handgun in his lap. He reportedly threatened to shoot his wife and himself. Fearing for her safety, his wife left the residence and called for help... Garrison, who is a member of the traffic unit, joined the Sheriff's Office in 1989, and resigned in 1993. He was hired again in 1994, resigning in 1997. He was hired again in 1998. He has been employed with the PCSO for a total of 6 years.... Following his arrest, Garrison was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the results of both the criminal investigation and an internal review...

Deputy Charged In Handgun Assault
The Ledger
September 11, 2004
WINTER HAVEN - A Polk County sheriff's deputy was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a handgun at 11 p.m. Thursday, according to a Winter Haven police report. Kevin Garrison, 50, a member of the sheriff's traffic unit, threatened to shoot his wife and himself, the report said. At one point, Garrison left the room, and his wife left the home and asked for help, the report said. When Winter Haven officers arrived at his home, they found Garrison holding a Smith & Wesson .45 caliber handgun in his lap...

Monday, July 26, 2004

[NY] Brooklyn Officer Rivera arrested for assault, tampering, false report

Monday, July 26, 2004
[News Excerpts] Jeffrey Rivera, 23, of Jamaica, Queens, a New York City Police Officer who was assigned to the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn allegedly accidentally shot and wounded his girlfriend's 18-year-old sister. He was arrested on charges of assault, criminal tampering and filing a false report, police said... Police said the wounded woman was taken to Jamaica Hospital in guarded condition. She is the sister of a woman with whom the officer has a child... [Queens District Attorney Richard] Brown said that the complaint alleges that the defendant at 2:36 a.m. called 911, identified himself as a Police Officer and stated that he had been cleaning his handgun, that it accidentally went off and that he shot his sister-in-law. The District Attorney said that the complaint further alleges that later on July 22, 2004 a court authorized search warrant drafted by the District Attorney's Homicide Investigations Bureau was executed and the NYPD Crime Scene Investigation Unit recovered a disassembled 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and that no materials utilized to clean a pistol were observed... Brown said, "The defendant -- a recent Police Academy graduate -- is alleged to have recklessly shot and seriously injured his girlfriend’s 18-year-old sister and then to have tried to deceive police by disassembling the weapon... Fortunately, the victim survived her brush with death"...
Case Disposition: Unknown.

Monday, July 19, 2004

[NYPD] Unnamed Brooklyn Detective stabbed by her ex

Brooklyn: Detective Stabbed In Her Home
New York Times
By Marc Santora (NYT);
Compiled by Diego Ribadeneira
July 19, 2004
A police detective was stabbed in the back at her Sunset Park home yesterday by her live-in companion, investigators said last night. The detective, whose identity was not disclosed, was treated at Lutheran Medical Center and released. The police identified her assailant as Gerard Emer, 40, who was arrested at the scene and charged with assault, criminal weapons possession and menacing... The detective escaped after being stabbed at least twice in the back, they said, and Mr. Emer was taken into custody after a brief standoff with arresting officers when he refused to leave the home. Marc Santora (NYT)

New York Cop Stabbed In The Back By Ex
New York Post, on Officer.com
Tatiana Deligiannakis
July 18th, 2004
July 18, 2004 -- An off-duty cop in Brooklyn was stabbed in the back by the father of her child yesterday ' who then ordered neighbors not to help the wounded officer, police and witnesses said. The unnamed officer, whose wounds were not considered life-threatening, was dropping off her 14-year-old son at around 3:45 p.m. at the boy's father's apartment on 40th Street in Sunset Park when an argument broke out.... 40-year-old Gerard Emer, allegedly plunged a utility knife into the cop's back... he barricaded himself from responding officers and threatened to harm himself, police said. Hostage negotiators brought the couple's son to the scene to help talk the man out... After two hours, Emergency Service cops used "nonlethal measures" to subdue Emer, who was handcuffed and brought to a hospital for evaluation...
A police source and neighbors indicated there was a history of domestic disputes between Emer and the officer,
who maintains a separate residence in Brooklyn and has custody of their son... Emer was placed under arrest and the cop was treated and released from an area hospital.
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Saturday, June 12, 2004

[NY] Deputy Kerfien's life better since arrest for clawhammer dv

..."My family is doing great... In a weird way - I wouldn't know how to put it into words - but all this helped"...
The Post-Standard
November 20, 2003
Delen Goldberg
An Oswego County sheriff's deputy recently suspended from the department appeared Wednesday in Fulton City Court to answer accusations of domestic abuse. Thomas A. Kerfien, 28, of Fulton, was accused of threatening his wife, Alicia, with a claw hammer Nov.4 in front of their two young children... Kerfien was charged with second-degree harassment, endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree menacing... Trouble at the Kerfien home began Nov. 4 when Alicia Kerfien told her husband that she wanted to leave him... Thomas Kerfien began yelling and swearing, his wife told police. He grabbed her, squeezed her jaw with his hand and kicked a vacuum cleaner hard enough to break its handle... Then he picked up a claw hammer, stepped forward and raised it toward his wife, who was holding their 2-year-old daughter at the time... Thomas Kerfien threatened to harm himself, his wife told police, went to his gun locker and removed a handgun. He cocked the gun, walked to a small back room of the house and blocked the entrance... Officers also charged Kerfien with second-degree harassment after his wife told police he pushed her to the ground, grabbed her throat and placed his hands over her mouth and nose for about 10 second in late October... The department will conduct an internal investigation to determine whether he will be reinstated, [Undersheriff Robert] Lighthall said. Lighthall declined to say whether Kerfien had ever faced disciplinary action before...

The Post-Standard
February 23, 2004
Delen Goldberg Staff writer
A former Oswego County sheriff's deputy accused of domestic abuse said stress from his job led to problems with his wife... "It was a case of things getting out of control because of stress from the job," Kerfien said Wednesday... Kerfien resigned as a deputy in November. He is now unemployed... "The stress was something I thought I could take care of," he said. "I tried to turn the switch off when I got home from work, but that didn't always work." In a written statement to police, Alicia Kerfien said the claw hammer incident was not the first time her husband abused her. "We have had physical and verbal fights in the past, and he has threatened me and threatened to hurt himself if I leave"... The couple has been together 10 years... Kerfien still lives with his family and said he's been getting counseling. "Things are a lot better now," he said. "We don't argue"... his case was adjourned until next month.

The Post-Standard
June 12, 2004
Delen Goldberg
A former Oswego County sheriff's deputy charged last year with domestic abuse admitted this week in court to mistreating his wife... pleaded guilty in Fulton City Court to one count of second-degree harassment, a violation. City Judge Spencer Ludington sentenced Kerfien to a one-year conditional discharge. That means Kerfien won't be sent to jail if he abides by all laws and is not re-arrested within the next year. "Stay out of trouble," the judge told Kerfien on Wednesday after handing down his sentence. "I know you will"... Kerfien has since found another full-time job, although he declined this week to say where he works... Ludington also issued Kerfien an order of protection. Kerfien may have contact with his wife, with whom he continues to live, but may not harass, alarm or annoy her... Kerfien said he considered the ordeal a learning experience that actually helped bring his family closer together. "My family is doing great," he said. "In a weird way - I wouldn't know how to put it into words - but all this helped."

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Agonizing issues linger in Brame case - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

...Tacomans demanded answers. They wanted accountability. They wanted to know how a man like David Brame - who, it was soon discovered, had failed psychological tests when he applied to become a police officer, had been accused of rape after he joined the department, and had abused his wife after he had become chief -- could rise to the top law enforcement job in one of Washington's largest cities...

Agonizing issues linger in Brame case
Progress and pain a year after slayings that rocked Tacoma

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
By Jeffrey M. Barker
Saturday, April 24, 2004

TACOMA - Among the many ways to measure a year, there is the way a young boy who has lost his mother reacts to a Disney movie in which a young brown bear's mother dies.

Another way to measure a year: take an accounting of those who have come and gone - retired, or been fired, resigned or been placed on paid administrative leave.

There are also new laws and protocols. There are soon-to-be-completed investigations. There is the heightened sensitivity to issues of domestic violence. There are lawyers' fees.

One year ago Monday, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame confronted his estranged wife, Crystal, in the parking lot of a Gig Harbor shopping center. He fatally shot her and killed himself, while the couple's two children - 5 and 8 years old at the time -- waited in a car nearby.

The tragedy ripped open the city of Tacoma, revealing ills within its Police Department and City Hall.

Tacomans demanded answers. They wanted accountability. They wanted to know how a man like David Brame - who, it was soon discovered, had failed psychological tests when he applied to become a police officer, had been accused of rape after he joined the department, and had abused his wife after he had become chief -- could rise to the top law enforcement job in one of Washington's largest cities.

People here, having lost faith in their local leaders, wanted change. Some even petitioned to change the form of the city's government.

But little has happened. Or perhaps much has happened. It depends on which way you choose to measure a year.

Two children with questions

"It seems like this happened just two months ago," said Julie Ahrens, sitting at her kitchen table recently, trying to sum up the past year. "It doesn't get easier."

Ahrens is Crystal Brame's sister. She and her husband, David, now care for the Brames' children. The Ahrens won custody of Haley, 9, and David Jr., 6, in August.

"It's a reminder every day that their mom isn't here for them. We need to be here for them," Julie said.

The children have remained in the same school and continue with their normal activities, the Ahrens said. It's an attempt to make "life as normal as possible." Julie, for example, took a long-term leave of absence from her job so she can be at home at all times, just as the kids' mother used to be.

But Haley and David Jr. also receive counseling and sometimes ask questions about their parents. Recently they watched "Brother Bear," a cartoon movie about a baby bear whose mother has been killed by hunters. At the end of the movie, the bear sees his mother again as a spirit who rises to heaven.

"They had been begging and begging to watch it for weeks," said Julie. "It upset David. I used it as an opportunity to sit down and talk about things."

Now it's the boy's favorite movie. He watched it four times in one week.

"You can't always shield them from everything forever," Julie said.

The Ahrens, along with Crystal's parents, Lane and Patty Judson, continue to pursue a lawsuit seeking the truth of how David Brame got to be police chief and how his meltdown went unaddressed within the city and the Tacoma Police Department.

The Brames did not have to die, the family says. There were people who could have done something to prevent Brame from pulling the trigger on his department-issued .45-caliber handgun one year ago.

When family members initially filed their claim with the city in July they asked for $75 million, but they say they were willing to lower that number dramatically in return for the truth.

"To have to negotiate for the truth is frustrating," David Ahrens said.

The lawsuit has been stalled. Judges bowed out. Court venues were changed.

"A civil lawsuit is the only way we're ever going to find the truth," said Paul Luvera, a Seattle attorney working on the family's behalf.

He uses that lawsuit to measure the year, saying that if the city had been open and honest about the events that led up to last April 26 -- as many leaders said they wanted to do -- perhaps there would be no lawsuit.

"I think we would have been past this case by now," Luvera said. However, he has yet to take a single deposition.

Tim Gosselin, one of the attorneys representing Tacoma in the lawsuit, also said the case could have been settled long ago.

"The city made a very genuine effort to try to resolve this case very early on," Gosselin said.

But now, the city has a duty to defend against the suit and try to save taxpayers from paying out a large award, he said.

In Luvera's view, very little has happened in the past year.

"No one has been held accountable. No one has been disciplined," Luvera said. "What's happened in the past year in Tacoma: further scandals."


Accusations and denials of bribery of a police officer by a local architect.

The arrest of former City Manager Ray Corpuz on a drunken-driving charge.

Police Lt. Joe Kirby filing a $500,000 claim against the city, alleging harassment for being listed among people to be interviewed in the Brame investigation.

The state auditor condemning the city for sloppy accounting.

Another police officer accused of beating his wife.


Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma has a different take.

"The city's done all it can do," Baarsma said recently, counting off the number of investigations, committees, policies and leadership changes he attributes directly to the Brame tragedy.

"We have a new police chief, a new command staff. We have a new city manager. We have a new City Council," he said.

Indeed, there have been many changes at the top in Tacoma. Don Ramsdell has taken over the Police Department. Former Assistant Chief Catherine Woodard, a friend to Brame who is named in the lawsuit against the city and who briefly took over as chief after the suicide, has retired. Bill Meeks, another close friend of Brame's and a member of his command staff, voluntarily took a demotion in September.

Corpuz, who is also named in the suit and was responsible for promoting Brame to chief, was fired last year. His second-in-command, Jim Walton, was named city manager, and has agreed to stay on until the City Council can find a replacement.

The City Council got three new members in the November elections. Most of the new members campaigned for more open government and greater accountability within City Hall.

Also, in February, the Tacoma Police Department unveiled new protocols on how to deal with domestic violence cases involving officers.

"The good thing is, at least they have a policy," said Lara Herrmann, a Tacoma lawyer who last year helped lead Women For Justice, a group that first proposed a state law on domestic-violence policies in Crystal's honor. "But the question is: Is that policy effective?"

Herrmann, who now helps officers' spouses who have been victims of domestic violence, said the past year has seen a heightened awareness of domestic violence.

But it has not seen a restoration of public confidence in local government, she said. The city has not cleaned house and become transparent, as leaders had promised, she said.

"Here we are, a year later, and I can say that my city has failed me, failed the taxpayers of Tacoma, failed the Judson family."

Two investigations into the city administration -- tracing Brame from his hiring, through his promotion to chief, to the day of the shootings -- were delayed but are wrapping up. The city expects to receive the reports -- one by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the other by the Washington State Patrol -- next month.

The State Patrol had concluded that no criminal acts had occurred. It is now looking into whether anyone violated city or Police Department policy. The sheriffs and police chiefs investigation will be handed to a citizens committee that was formed by former Deputy Mayor Bil Moss.

In addition, the FBI continues to scour Tacoma, looking into allegations of government corruption.

If any wrongdoing is outlined in the reports, Baarsma said, "action will be taken."


"At some point, something positive has to come of this," David Ahrens said, "because there's been so much negative."

He said the family owes it to Crystal -- and to her children and the grandchildren who may one day be born -- to make sure she made a difference in this world. And for now, that means pressing the lawsuit until everything is clear, and someone is held accountable.

"The longer this drags out, the more determined the family gets," attorney Luvera said.


Some of those who rallied to support Crystal Brame and other victims of domestic violence ask that people honor her by wearing purple ribbons on Monday and observing a moment of silence at the time she was shot: 3:10 p.m. Her family has set up a Web site inviting tributes: www.remembercrystal.com/

P-I reporter Jeffrey M. Barker can be reached at 206-870-7852 or jeffreybarker@seattlepi.com


Friday, April 23, 2004

"A case against 'Tacoma Immunity" [New Takhoman]

...Who in the police department and city government were aware that Brame had been accused of rape and domestic violence?...Who else has a gun and badge that failed their psychological screening?...

Letter to the Editor of The NewTakhoman

A case against 'Tacoma Immunity

The New Takhoman
Robert Shambeau, Tacoma
April 23rd, 2004
Vol 4, No 80

The real problem is an epidemic of elitism. Both Brame and Corpuz demanded loyalty above all else. Unfortunately, most of their collective appointments have yet to be removed from office. Arrogance amongst the city government's top officials has and will cost the taxpayers dearly. After all, it isn't actually their money being spent to defend their reckless actions. In the end, the city will be exposed for a huge liability for Crystal Brame's wrongful death. All of the facts have yet to come out and already the case against the city is overwhelming. How many trial lawyers have the luxury of having the fruit of independent investigations to make their case? Not to mention the prying eyes of the media, who are still publishing even more of Brame's many indiscretions, and the city's woeful lack of oversight.

Remember, just days before the shootings, Baarsma was telling the media that Brame was doing a 'stellar' job. Was his conduct really 'stellar', or was the mayor oblivious to the actions of his golden boy? Then there is Corpuz, who untruthfully told the media that there had been no calls for an investigation of Brame, when in fact he told Woodard two weeks prior that an anonymous complaint would not be investigated?

The city council has already tacitly admitted liability by making Brame's family an offer of $8 million dollars. It seems like every two weeks new failings of Tacoma city government are published. As the discovery phase of the lawsuit is about to unfold, ask yourself some key questions. What will happen when Luvera gets a hold of ALL of the psychological screenings from all current and former police officers? What will happen when not if, under oath, key witnesses and or defendants contradict each other?

If it isn't already obvious, a clear pattern of negligence is emerging. From Brame's questionable hiring through his abysmal appointment to Chief, to his meltdown witnessed by everyone at the top, then on to clear warning signs of depression, desperation, obsession, harassment, abuse of power, and finally irrational anger. Can you imagine being a high ranking cop or city official with something to hide facing Luvera's deposition?

There is a very small and shrinking group who actually thinks that in the end, the city isn't liable for Crystal Brame's murder. Among the many things this group fails to see is that by allowing the case to make its way through the court system is that the entire city government and especially the police department will lose its credibility. How many 'baby brame' lawsuits will follow? Ray Roberts, Jim Swilley, Valencia Brooks, Brame's sexual harassment victim, even the New Takhoman's John Hathaway and Phil Knutsen.

Here is a quote from one of the attorneys hired by the city:

"There's a difference between a moral or ethical obligation and a legal obligation," Novasky said. "The question in litigation like this is: Was the city legally obligated to respond or protect Crystal or take action against David Brame based on information it did or did not have? The answer is ultimately what the court decides or the jury decides."

Maybe Novasky should take the time to read RCW 10.99.030? Here are some of the highlights:

1) All training relating to the handling of domestic violence complaints by law enforcement officers shall stress enforcement of criminal laws in domestic situations, availability of community resources, and protection of the victim. Law enforcement agencies and community organizations with expertise in the issue of domestic violence shall cooperate in all aspects of such training.

2) The course of instruction,.... focus on enforcing the criminal laws, safety of the victim, and holding the perpetrator accountable for the violence. The curriculum shall include ... the importance of criminal justice intervention, techniques for responding ... that promote victim safety, investigation and interviewing skills, evidence gathering and report writing, assistance to and services for victims and children, verification and enforcement of court orders, liability, and any additional provisions that are necessary to carry out the intention of this subsection.

(5) The primary duty of peace officers, when responding to a domestic violence situation, is to enforce the laws allegedly violated and to protect the complaining party.

(6)(a) When a peace officer responds to a domestic violence call and has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, the peace officer shall exercise arrest powers with reference to the criteria in RCW 10.31.100. The officer shall notify the victim of the victim's right to initiate a criminal proceeding in all cases where the officer has not exercised arrest powers or decided to initiate criminal proceedings by citation or otherwise. The parties in such cases shall also be advised of the importance of preserving evidence.

(b) A peace officer responding to a domestic violence call shall take a complete offense report including the officer's disposition of the case.

(10) Each law enforcement agency shall make as soon as practicable a written record and shall maintain records of all incidents of domestic violence reported to it.

Key questions the people have a right to have answered:

Who in the police department and city government were aware that Brame had been accused of rape and domestic violence?

To what extent did then Mayor-Elect Baarsma lobby for Brame's appointment for Chief?

What really happened during the April 25, 2003 Human Resources/City Attorney meeting?

Assuming that the Jenkinson version of the meeting is true, then the more important question is: Why wasn't she concerned about the Chief's off duty conduct?

Who else has a gun and badge that failed their psychological screening?

What will be the official policy of city leaders with regards to intimate relationships of city employees?

How long can a city employee remain on administrative leave while an investigation is pending?

When will the recommendations of the Buraker audit be implemented?

When will the citizens of Tacoma get civilian oversight of the police department?

How much would it of cost to keep Tacoma's liability policy at $20 million?

Who made the decision to drop the insurance coverage?

What is the threshold of evidence and testimony that will trigger an internal investigation?

Who stonewalled the investigation into Brame's misconduct?

If the city did nothing wrong, why did they adopt a domestic violence policy?

Does anyone in the city attorney's office have a pre existing relationship with any lawyers at Burgess Fitzer?

Why wasn't either of the Brame's allegations of domestic violence, submitted under penalty of perjury, investigated?

Monday, April 19, 2004

"Tacoma city attorney jumps ship" [Business Examiner Daily]

Tacoma city attorney jumps ship
Business Examiner Daily
Local Business News for April 19, 2004

Tacoma's City Attorney Robin Jenkinson has resigned from her post to accept a similar position with the City of Kirkland.

As Tacoma's City Attorney, Jenkinson supervised a team of 47 employees, including 25 civil, utilities and criminal justice attorneys.

"I had the good fortune of working in the Legal Department at a time when some very exciting projects were taking place in Tacoma, such as the Museum of Glass, the Tacoma Art Museum, Thea Foss Landing and the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center," said Jenkinson.

She also has the misfortune of having been among city officials some critics contend failed to take actions that could have to prevented the murder/suicide of Crystal Brame and Tacoma Police Chief David Brame.

Jenkinson's last day with the city will be April 30.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Bills spurred by murder-suicide moving forward - Seattle PI

...House Bill 2392 and its twin, Senate Bill 6161, would require law enforcement agencies to adopt a model statewide policy or an individual policy for responding to allegations of domestic violence by their employees... "It is definitely a pioneering effort. No other state has adopted statewide minimum standards"...

Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Jennifer Lloyd
February 23, 2004
[Excerpts] Bills dealing with domestic violence - including measures spurred by the murder-suicide involving Tacoma police Chief David Brame - are moving through the Legislature. The Senate endorsed two bills focusing on domestic-violence issues, while the House passed seven bills. Two companion measures stemming from Brame's fatal shooting in April of his wife, Crystal, are top priorities. House Bill 2392 and its twin, Senate Bill 6161, would require law enforcement agencies to adopt a model statewide policy or an individual policy for responding to allegations of domestic violence by their employees. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, along with representatives from law enforcement agencies and victims' rights organizations, would develop the model policy by Dec. 1. Agencies would have to adopt procedures by June 1, 2005, and train every employee on the domestic-violence protocol by June 30, 2006. The bills' sponsors, Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, and Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, represent districts at the epicenter of the Brame tragedy. "For me, there has been a degree of satisfaction that I took action and a positive step to make amends for what happened in the parking lot of my grocery store last April," said Lantz, a member of the state's Task Force on Officer-Involved Domestic Violence. "It is definitely a pioneering effort. No other state has adopted statewide minimum standards." On Thursday, the House Committee for Juvenile Justice and Family Law heard testimony on the Senate bill, a result of concern over the Brame incident. According to testimony Thursday, law enforcement agencies should have a clear policy for handling domestic-violence allegations against officers so that victims know what to expect during a police investigation. "In my case it was two whole months before they contacted me. That's a whole lot of time to wonder if they're investigating it, how they're investigating it, without talking to me," Heidi Collins testified. Her husband, an officer with an Eastside department, was charged last July with assaulting her. He returned to work in January after receiving a "stipulated order of continuance," not a guilty verdict, for a fourth-degree assault charge in King County District Court. He must undergo domestic-violence treatment. "This bill will eliminate a lot of the stress that comes from not knowing what is going to happen next, when or if anything is going to happen at all," Collins said... Both bills unanimously passed their houses of origin... [Full article here]

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

[NV] Washoe Deputy Williamson arrested for DV

...accused of pulling his wifes hair, slapping her across the face and punching her in the back, Keefer said. Officers also found old bruises... Officers also found old bruises on her...

KRNV News 4 Local News
February 11, 2004
A Washoe County sheriff's deputy is in jail charged with domestic battery. 31-year-old Brian Williamson was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his Sparks home. He is charged with two counts of domestic battery against his wife. Williamson, an eight year veteran of the force, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation by sparks police. The sheriff's department will also launch internal investigation. Williamson is currently in custody at the Washoe county jail on $20,000 bail.

Reno Gazette-Journal (NV)
Wednesday - Feb 11, 2004
A Washoe County sheriff's deputy was placed on administrative leave Tuesday after Sparks police arrested him on two counts of suspicion of domestic battery. Deputy Brian Williamson, 31, an eight-year deputy who works in detention, was booked into Washoe County Jail and held on $20,000 bail after the 4:30 p.m. arrest. Sparks police answered a 911 call Sunday about 3:15 p.m. that came from Williamson's home or a neighbor, Lt. Steve Keefer said. Williamson is accused of pulling his wife's hair, slapping her across the face and punching her in the back, Keefer said. Officers also found old bruises on her, he said. The sheriff's office also will investigate, said Deputy Michelle Youngs, department spokeswoman.

Friday, February 6, 2004

[WA] Judge in Chief Brame murder-suicide suit was investigated for dv

Judge in Brame suit was investigated for alleged abuse 1992: State looked into matter, did not charge Armijo
The News Tribune
Karen Hucks
February 6, 2004
[Excerpts] The judge hearing the Crystal Brame lawsuit was investigated in 1992 for allegedly hitting his teenage daughter because she didn't want to let him put a cream above her lip to remove facial hair. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Sergio Armijo was never charged with a crime, but Child Protective Services looked into the matter. Its report surfaced this week, raising questions of whether Armijo had any conflict of interest in hearing the lawsuit, which includes allegations of domestic violence... According to the CPS report, written May 5, 1992, Armijo's 14-year-old daughter said that the night before, her father had wanted to take facial hair off her upper lip, and she didn't want him to do it. He made her lie on the bed so he could apply the cream. When she wiggled, he got angry, pulled her hair and hit her on the leg with a belt, the report says. The girl's mother had intervened, telling Armijo he was abusive, and he went outside to cool down, the report says. Investigators said the girl had two bruises consistent with her account. The report also said the girl reported that normal discipline in the household was corporal punishment. She said her father had "beaten up" her brother once; the boy told investigators that was true, but that it had happened only once, three years earlier. Pierce County prosecutors reviewed the CPS report and decided not to file felony charges against Armijo, then an appointed Tacoma Municipal Court judge running for election. The report was passed to Tacoma city misdemeanor attorneys, who forwarded it to Thurston County attorneys. They decided not to file charges. Kathy Spears, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services, declined to comment... The family of Tacoma Police Chief David Brame's wife has sued the city, accusing officials of giving him too much power, ignoring allegations of domestic violence and not noticing his emotional disintegration. Brame fatally shot his wife and himself April 26. Five other judges had declined to hear the case. Judicial canons tell judges to disqualify themselves from proceedings if their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Attorneys not involved in the case said they'd want to know if a judge presiding over a domestic violence case had been accused of hurting a family member. "I guess for me, it's not automatic disqualification, but I would want to know more," said deputy prosecutor Cort O'Connor, who runs Pierce County's misdemeanor domestic violence unit... [Full article here]