Judge orders Tacoma to save Brame files

Lawsuit: No destruction was imminent, city lawyer says

July 3, 2004 

A judge has issued a restraining order telling the City of Tacoma not to destroy unreleased documents from a Washington State Patrol investigation of the David Brame scandal, while city officials insisted they never planned to do so.

One of the attorneys representing Crystal Brame's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city said Friday that he was pleased with the ruling by King County Superior Court Judge James Cayce, but he regrets the need to ask for it in the first place.

"It's unfortunate we had to do this, but we're pleased the judge did the right thing," said lawyer David Beninger.

Attorneys representing the city were unavailable for comment late Friday afternoon, but acting city attorney Elizabeth Pauli said earlier this week that the motion was unnecessary because the city never planned to destroy any of the records.

The documents in question are the result of a State Patrol investigation into misconduct allegations against 33 city and police department employees that arose from the Brame scandal.

Brame, the city's police chief, killed his wife and himself last year.

The City of Tacoma has not released the names of the employees or the allegations against them, saying they will release only records related to "sustained" complaints against employees.

The State Patrol finished its work April 28, but city officials have refused to release records of the investigation to the public, saying the investigation is "ongoing" until City Manager Jim Walton finishes reviewing the report.

Beninger said the attorneys representing Crystal Brame's family asked for the judge's order after they became aware of a 14-page city memo that made reference to destruction of records.

"If they weren't contemplating it, why would they do this research?" Beninger asked.

Cayce put off until July 9 a decision on a request to compel the City of Tacoma to provide a copy of the State Patrol investigation to the plaintiff's lawyers.

Jason Hagey: 253-597-8542
jason.hagey@mail.tribnet.com

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