Police Chief’s Wife Dies; Reports of Abuse Continue to Surface
After filing for divorce to escape more than a decade of abuse, Crystal Brame, the estranged wife of Tacoma Washington Police Chief David Brame, died Saturday after clinging to life for nearly a week. On April 26, Crystal was shot by her husband, who then turned the gun on himself in front of the couple’s two children after they met in a shopping mall parking lot.
In the two weeks following the shooting, reports have begun to surface about David Brame’s history including a 1988 date rape. According to Margaret Moore, director of FMF’s 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.”
The shooting occurred just one day after reports of David Brame’s abusive behavior – detailed in divorce proceedings – became public and Tacoma officials urged that his gun be taken away. City Attorney Robin Jenkinson rejected that recommendation on grounds that “divorce was none of the city’s business,” the Washington Post reported. Under the Lautenberg Amendment or Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban that was approved by Congress in 1996, anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor is prohibited from owning a gun – including police officers.
Reports that David Brame date-raped a woman at gunpoint in 1988 had started to resurface more than a month before the shooting incident, according to the Associated Press. The woman, who claims that Brame forced her to have sex with him at gunpoint after a date, reported the incident to a police officer shortly afterwards. The alleged rape was investigated and the complaint was declared, “not sustained,” by then Police Chief Ray Fjetland, according to the AP. Fjetland told the woman that Brame would be sent to a police psychologist. In addition, in 1981 a police psychologist declared Brame “unfit for police work,” according to the Post.
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs is conducting an investigation into Brame’s career with the Tacoma Police Department and his promotion to police chief.