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Friday, April 18, 2008

5 years ago it's 7 days til' Tacoma's police chief fatally shoots Crystal and himself

Attorney Paul Luvera in depostion to Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz:
"Did you contact Crystal Brame?"

It's important to understand how things work. It gives all who see, a chance to handle their police departments and city governments differently - hopefully aggressively preventative. To see what happened in Tacoma allows others to recall, and make interventions where those opportunities present themselves. Here we learn that keeping it on the down-low doesn't work. It's a bad plan. A high-risk, potentially fatal, expensive, horrifying plan. What was meant to be kept QUIET ended up in newspapers around the WORLD. What was meant to PROTECT Tacoma Police Chief David Brame and the reputation of Tacoma ended in two messy close-range glock-to-the-head fatalities, 2 children to live with the trauma of running to the scene, 2 children literally - think about it - robbed forever of both their parents, eternally bereaved loved ones from both families, a shocked and sorrowed STATE of citizens, several lawsuits against city entities and individuals- including a $75M wrongful death suit, and an outcry from victims of officer-involved domestic violence victims that they have no where to turn.

I'm doing this - and will continue to for the rest of the month - because victims of officer-involved domestic violence need special protections. I will talk more on that in the days coming up. For now - here is a peek into what a gross failure to respond and protect looks like.

May other law enforcement agencies be enlightened and make changes to how they handle the information that a law enforcement officer is being accused of domestic violence. Don't cover it up. Investigate. Adopt clear governing policy of what protocol to follow - even if it is the top dog.

Corpuz: No one told me to investigate Brame
KING 5 News
By Deborah Feldman
September 27, 2005
Former Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz has broken his silence about what he did and did not know about his hand-picked Police Chief, David Brame. Brame killed his wife and himself in April of 2003. He [Corpuz] made the statements while being questioned last week by Paul Luvera, an attorney for Crystal Brame's family. Corpuz stated that he may have been the only official with the authority to order an investigation of Brame and admitted that in the days and weeks leading up to Brame's murder-suicide, he learned of an anonymous letter complaining about Brame's behavior towards his estranged wife. Corpuz said he chose not to investigate the allegations because the letter was unsigned. "My understanding at that time as I recall was that the anonymous complaints were filed away," he said, and "not necessarily investigated." Corpuz also revealed that when reporters asked him about domestic violence allegations in the Brame's ongoing divorce proceedings, he didn't take any action then because none of his staffers told him what to do. "Well you know, speculating but I would have expected the staff, my staff, to again review the matter and bring some action or something for me to consider," he told Luvera. Corpuz is no longer tacoma's city manager. He received a generous severance package and is now a city official in Seaside, Calif. But this deposition is sure to reopen old wounds as to why he ignored complaints about Brame's leadership abilities. Luvera asked: Was it ever brought to your attention that there was a culture of intimidation and fear, cliques, secrecy, favoritism and intimidation for career advancement within the Tacoma Police Department while you were city manager?" To which Corpuz answered, "I may have heard some of that. And I treated those as rumors." Corpuz' statements also raise new questions as to why neither he, nor anyone else was able to help Crystal Brame in the days leading up to her murder. He stated that he did not contact Crystal Brame, nor her family, nor anyone at the police department.


Taken on behalf of the Plaintiffs
21 September 20, 2005
Q. Were you aware of the domestic violence allegations at the time on Friday, for example?
A. On Friday I received a phone call I think from a reporter from the PI [Seattle Post Intelligencer] I believe earlier that week. It might have been Wednesday or Thursday.
Q. And what information did you have about the domestic violence allegation?
A. All I had was the information that the reporter said that they had the pleadings. I had not seen the pleadings, hadn't read the pleadings. No one had given the pleadings to me, and nobody had provided any recommendation or analysis or comment on it.
Q. Were you aware of death threats being alleged in the divorce papers?
A. Not to my knowledge, no. Unless the reporter might have said something.
Q. That's really my question. Did the reporter say that there were death threats in these allegations?
A. The reporter might have said that, yes.
Q. How about domestic violence, choking?
A. I don't know if they described it that way, but it might have been some references, yes, to domestic violence.
Q. What was your reaction to that?
A. Well, my reaction was I was somewhat surprised. And the reporter did mention that there was I recall domestic violence by both parties. So that surprised me that -- you know. So in my dealings with many city of Tacoma personnel issues I know that divorce pleadings can be very rancorous, they can be very -- very negative, very emotional. And that's usually -- divorce proceedings that's not unusual to have. So my reaction was one of surprise and -- but I didn't believe at that point that we -- she asked me was I going to investigate. And I didn't -- I think I said something generally I was not going to do that right now.
Q. And why did you feel that way?
A. Well, I think, you know, as I said earlier, I think when you have an issue before you usually you look at it in some way, you review it or investigate it. I mean, I didn't have anything before me. I had nobody recommending any action or any steps. So the first thing would have been to receive those pleadings.
Q. Did you talk -- did you call anybody, anybody in the police department about it?
A. No. I did call the city attorney.
Q. And who did you talk with?
A. Robin Jenkinson.
Q. And what was said, please?
A. Basically I asked if -- what's our policy regarding divorce matters. And I received a call, and we discussed that matter. And I think what she said is that normally we don't, you know, pursue those. That she just wanted to make sure that I was I think not insensitive to employees' issues of that type. Meaning that if there was I guess some action necessary the city would take action. Now, normally in a situation like that I do receive something from the staff. They may review, the city attorney, HR or police, and then there's something for me to take action on. But at that point I didn't receive any action.
Q. Well, if, in fact, the chief of police had choked his wife, pointed a gun at her, threatened her life, would you as city manager be concerned about that person acting as chief of police of the City of Tacoma?
A. Again, those were divorce pleadings, and I, you know, don't want to speculate. But if they were brought to me in the described fashion where there was a review, an examination, you know -- you know, matching up against our policies, what we would normally take steps, there's usually a due process. We don't, you know, just react because it's in the newspaper. I -- if I did that, I wouldn't have lasted 13 and a half years with the city council. So I mean, these things are reported. And there's always usually two sides to every issue. And you balance that by making sure you follow some due process. You don't I don't think overreact.
Q. Would you consider that a serious allegation?
A. I believe that would be a serious allegation, yes.
Q. Would it be a matter that would concern you?
A. It would concern me. Again, what I heard from the reporter was that there were allegations from both parties.
Q. Did you contact Crystal Brame?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Or her family?
A. No, I did not contact them.
Q. Anybody at all in the police department?
A. No, I did not contact them...

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