Special Reports

Judge orders release of documents on ex-officer

A former Tacoma police officer couldn't keep the department from releasing details Friday of allegations he pushed and slapped his wife five years ago.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bev Grant denied Greg Meyer's request to keep the Internal Affairs investigation secret. Meyer quit in October 1998 amid the investigation, which sustained two of three domestic violence allegations.

The city released Meyer's file Friday afternoon.

He argued the 5-year-old file should have been destroyed under the department's policy of purging sustained Internal Affairs investigations three years and three months after they are completed.

Meyer also said he believed the file was confidential, was not in the public's interest and would cause severe harm.

Several media outlets asked that the file be released when the police department came under scrutiny after Chief David Brame killed his wife and himself April 26 amid domestic violence allegations.

The file is not exempt under the state's public records law, said attorney Bill Holt, who represented The News Tribune.

"The policy is openness," he said.

The city believed it had to release the documents because they were still on file, said Tom Orr, the police department's legal adviser.

Grant ruled the file was not exempt from disclosure.

Meyer was charged in 1998 with fourth-degree assault in connection with the incident with his wife. Prosecutors alleged he pushed her onto a bed, then slapped her hard enough to puncture an eardrum.

Meyer accepted a deferred prosecution and agreed to complete court-ordered terms, including that he attend and complete the domestic violence perpetrators treatment program.

Meyer completed the requirements and the charge was dismissed in 1999, according to court documents.

"I was never arrested for a crime," Meyer, 38, said Friday. "I was never convicted of a crime. At no point did I ever admit to a crime."

Meyer is one of nine Tacoma police officers who were investigated in the past five years for domestic abuse and whose allegations were verified.

The Police Department released the findings of the sustained Internal Affairs investigations - 10 cases in all because one officer was investigated twice - after The News Tribune and other media outlets sought the information through public disclosure requests.

The allegations against the officers ranged from child rape to hitting a family member to abusing their police power in a domestic situation.

The officers faced a variety of sanctions. One was fired, two resigned and two were suspended. The others received a written reprimand, disciplinary letters and counseling.

Following case law, the police department has not released files for cases in which investigators couldn't determine whether inappropriate behavior occurred.

Meyer's wife initially accused him of three violent outbursts during their marriage. Internal Affairs found the officer had acted in self-defense in one of the incidents, according to a memo in the file.

Investigators found sufficient evidence to sustain the allegations in the other two incidents.

Meyer resigned Oct. 15, 1998. A memorandum in his Internal Affairs file said then-Chief Philip Arreola was going to fire him.

Despite its policy, the department had kept the file under a state law on retention of public records, Orr said. The law requires agencies to keep those records for six years before destroying them.

The department is reviewing how it handles Internal Investigation files, officials have said.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268