Special Reports

Crystal Brame's family files claim against Mayor Baarsma

Crystal Brame's family took a step Tuesday toward suing Tacoma's mayor, saying public comments by Bill Baarsma show he knew about David Brame's domestic violence before the police chief fatally shot his wife and himself in April.

Paul Luvera, the Seattle attorney representing the family, wouldn't be specific about Baarsma's comments but said they helped raise questions he wants answered.

"I'm not in a position to point to any specific thing or any specific event, but it seems to me he was more than a bemused bystander," Luvera said.

Tim Gosselin, one of the Burgess Fitzer attorneys representing the city, said his impression of the the claim filed Tuesday was that "it's a technicality."

Crystal Brame's parents, Lane and Patty Judson; her sister, Julie Ahrens; and her two children, Haley and David Jr., filed the wrongful death claim. It allows them to add Baarsma to their lawsuit against the City of Tacoma after 60 days.

Luvera said Baarsma likely won't be the only individual named in a claim as the lawsuit progresses. But he also wouldn't say that Baarsma definitely will be added to the suit.

The family sued the City of Tacoma on Oct. 8, alleging that city officials caused Crystal Brame's death by giving David Brame power and a gun and not keeping an eye on him.

The claim against Baarsma states the same thing.

Specifically, it alleges that Baarsma was familiar with David Brame's past history and personality. Baarsma either knew or should have known about Brame's history of harassment and domestic violence, of psychologist recommendations not to hire him, about a rape allegation against him, and about rumors of corruption and a cover-up, the claim also alleges.

Baarsma "still recommended and championed his promotion to chief," the claim states.

The claim further states that after allegations of abuse in the Brames' divorce were detailed in a Seattle newspaper, Baarsma and City Manager Ray Corpuz told reporters the city wouldn't investigate the allegations because they were private.

By law, such claims have to include a dollar amount. The family suggests a range of $12.8 million to $75 million.

After meeting with the city's lawyers, Baarsma echoed Gosselin's remarks on the latest claim.

"It is technical in nature," Baarsma said.

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660