Special Reports

Women's group speaks up for victims

A Tacoma-area women's group is working for city, state and federal laws requiring immediate and serious attention to domestic violence complaints from the spouses and partners of police officers, firefighters and public officials.

"It's hard to believe that a chief of police would shoot his own wife," said Tacoma attorney Lara Herrmann, who joined with others to found Women for Justice about a year ago. "We think there are a lot of Crystals out there right now."

"The minute Crystal filed for divorce," she added, "that file should have been stamped with a big DV, and a special committee or someone should have looked at it."

Herrmann and others who want enactment of what they're calling the "Crystal Act" at the city, state and local levels believe it's simply too easy for the "good old boy" network to ignore complaints of domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers and others in positions of authority.

"They should have taken his gun and badge while this was investigated," she said.

Tacoma Police Chief David Brame shot and fatally wounded his wife, Crystal, and then committed suicide with his Glock .45-caliber service handgun in a Gig Harbor parking lot April 26.

Herrmann and other members of Women for Justice, including Heather Lewis-Lechner and Debra Hannula, also local attorneys, all berated the Tacoma City Council on Saturday for its choice of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to investigate David Brame's murderous outburst, hiring and promotions up the ranks of the Tacoma Police Department.

Members of the association are the friends and peers of David Brame, Lewis-Lechner said before the council meeting. Asking them to investigate the former chief "is basically like having the fox guarding the hen house."

During the council meeting, Women for Justice members and a parade of other speakers, many wearing black-and-white "Crystal We Believe You" stickers and purple ribbons, begged the council for a more impartial review.

Letting members of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, who knew and worked with Brame, investigate him "is an outrage," Hannula said.

"She was not believed," Lewis-Lechner told the council. "We have a major problem in our society, and it hasn't been fixed yet."

Council members subsequently approved a deal with the sheriffs and police chiefs association to investigate the situation, saying members of the investigative committee are above reproach.

Council members also said they were sympathetic to requests to get others also involved in the investigation and promised to do so.

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659


Women call for vigil, ribbons to honor Crystal

• A candlelight vigil in honor of Crystal Brame will be sponsored by Women for Justice at 5 p.m. Tuesday at South Ninth and Market streets, near Tacoma City Hall. The council will be meeting at that time.

• The group wants the city to adopt what it's calling the "Crystal Act," which would require immediate attention to domestic violence complaints made by spouses and partners of police, firefighters and public officials.

• The group also is asking citizens statewide to wear purple ribbons Tuesday in honor of Crystal Brame and all other victims of domestic violence.

• For information, call Lara Herrmann at 253-380-5272 or Sherry Bockwinkel at 253-272-6785.