Year After Wa. Chief Murder-Suicide: Changes, Suit


One year ago, Tacoma, Wa., police chief David Brame shot himself and his wife to death. The aftermath has resulted in legislative and policy changes aimed at holding abusive officers accountable for their violence, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Washington is the first state to require every police agency to adopt a domestic-violence policy. The policy must be in place by June 2005. Tacoma and its Police Department have cracked down on employees who abuse their families. Advocates for victims say not enough is being done to provide confidential help for those abused by cops. Writing new policies is easier than changing a police culture in which domestic violence has been minimized, advocates say.

Crystal Brame’s sister Julie and her husband, David Ahrens, have custody of the dead couple’s children, 9 and 6 years old. The Ahrens and Crystal’s parents are pursuing a lawsuit seeking to explain how David Brame got to be police chief and how his meltdown went unaddressed. 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.

The claim against the city seeks $75 million, but they are willing to lower the number dramatically in return for the truth. “To have to negotiate for the truth is frustrating,” David Ahrens said. “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 says that the city had been open and honest about the events that led up to last April 26, perhaps there would be no lawsuit.


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