Brame forced retirement, suit claims

Assistant chief: Lost wages, benefits sought

July 23, 2004 

Fallout from the David Brame scandal continues to add to the City of Tacoma's legal headaches.

Ray Roberts, a 29-year veteran of the Tacoma Police Department, filed a lawsuit against the city in Pierce County Superior Court on Tuesday. The suit seeks lost wages and benefits resulting from his early retirement in 2002, a decision Roberts says Police Chief Brame forced on him.

The suit follows a $500,000 damage claim Roberts filed against the city earlier this year, which city leaders have rejected.

Roberts retired as an assistant police chief Aug. 5, 2002. He made the decision shortly after Brame said he planned to demote Roberts to captain.

Roberts has said he asked Brame for a reason and the chief replied, "Because I can."

Retiring allowed Roberts to preserve his salary as an assistant chief and avoid the pay cut that would have accompanied a drop in rank. He also retired 30 days before completing 30 years in the department - a milestone that would have increased his pension.

The suit reiterates Roberts' claim that Brame knew the financial consequences of the demotion and took pleasure in causing Roberts financial pain.

Last fall, Tacoma leaders discussed the possibility of returning Roberts to the department long enough for him to qualify for a 30-year pension, but nothing came of it.

At the time, City Manager Jim Walton called Brame's treatment of Roberts "the ultimate in abuse of power and privilege."

Roberts and his attorney, David W. Merdach of Tacoma, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Scott Huntley, City of Tacoma spokesman, said City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli could not be reached to explain the city's rejection of Roberts' damage claim.

Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and himself on April 26, 2003 in Gig Harbor. The slayings prompted multiple investigations of the police department and city employees.

The shootings also have spawned a wrongful death lawsuit against the city by Crystal Brame's family and, on June 29, a $2 million damage claim by Sylvia Boskovich, a 44-year-old Tacoma woman who says Brame raped her in 1987. Boskovich says the city didn't pass along her allegation to an outside agency.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486
sean.robinson@mail.tribnet.com

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