Police Chief Shoots Wife, Kills Self

Tacoma, Washington, chief of police David Brame, whose history of domestic violence was revealed on Friday, shot his wife and killed himself on Saturday. Crystal Brame had filed for divorce two months ago, detailing in court documents incidents of physical and psychological abuse by her husband, including an incident in November 2002 when David Brame “choked [her] and threatened that he could snap [her] neck if he wanted to,” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Shortly before they separated in February, she alleged, Brame pointed his service revolver at her and said “accidents happen,” according to the Post-Intelligencer.

David Brame, however, claimed that Crystal was the abusive partner in the relationship. He alleged in court documents that Crystal, at just over five feet tall and weighing 105 pounds, had scratched, bruised, and pushed him during two incidents in September 1996, according to the Times. Brame told the Times that he had reported the incidents to the police and had them photograph his bruises but asked them not to investigate the assaults, despite the fact that state law requires officers to arrest anyone suspected of domestic violence based on a credible complaint. Brame explained that he was trying to “protect himself” from “false” abuse allegations from his wife, according to the Post-Intelligencer.

Judie Fortier, who has headed Tacoma’s domestic violence task force since its inception, said that any complaints of abuse by David Brame should have triggered an investigation that could have prevented this tragedy, according to the News Tribune. If nothing else, Fortier said, the police department should have launched an investigation on Friday when the domestic abuse allegations were made public, the News Tribune reports. However, city and police officials refused to intervene. The day before the shootings, Mayor Bill Baarsma said the allegations were a “private matter” and Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz told the Post-Intelligencer that he was “not interested in exploring David’s personal life at this time.” According to Margaret Moore, director of the National Center for Women and Policing, “Brame’s behavior was a classic profile of a police domestic abuser. There were indications that were ignored by the department and the elected officials. Police family violence policies should be mandatory for every department.”

David and Crystal Brame met by chance on Saturday while David was presumably taking their two children on an errand, and the couple had a brief and reportedly heated discussion before Brame shot his wife and then himself with his service revolver, according to the Seattle Times. Crystal is in serious but stable condition after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. The children, Haley, 8, and David Jr., 5, are staying with their maternal grandparents.

LEARN MORE For the victims of police family violence, you are not alone. Get help now.

Ask a Question Renae Griggs, Executive Director of the National Police Family Violence Prevention Project will be answering questions from May 2 to May 9 about the issue of police family violence


Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4/25/03, 4/28/03, 4/29/03; The News Tribune 4/29/03; Seattle Times 4/29/03; The Olympian 4/29/03

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