Special Reports

HR wanted chief's gun, badge

The day before David Brame shot his wife and killed himself, Tacoma's top human resource officials recommended the city manager take away the police chief's gun and badge, city government sources say.

City Attorney Robin Jenkinson and chief assistant city attorney Elizabeth Pauley disagreed with the recommendation by human resource manager Phil Knudsen and his second in command, Mary Brown, sources say.

City Manager Ray Corpuz said he could not confirm anything about the recommendation because of a pending investigation of him, Brame and others.

"I've made a commitment to this investigation by an external agency," he said Friday night. "I want this investigation to proceed in a way that's not biased or influenced by anyone, including me."

The News Tribune talked with multiple sources who knew of the discussion between the city's human resource and legal departments.

Knudsen and Brown - who oversees workplace violence-prevention programs - made their recommendation April 25 after reading a newspaper report on Brame's contentious divorce, sources say.

Knudsen and Brown became alarmed after reading that Crystal Brame had said her husband had choked her and threatened to shoot her, sources say.

The city's legal advisers disagreed with Knudsen and Brown, sources say, contending the Brames' divorce was a civil matter in which the city had no business.

Pauley told The News Tribune neither she nor Jenkinson could comment on the discussion or confirm it took place, because to do so would violate attorney-client privilege.

"It's the position of this office that (that information) would be privileged under these circumstances," Pauley said.

Knudsen and Brown declined to answer questions.

"This is under investigation, and I have no comment," Brown said.

"This is now an official investigation, and I have no comment," Knudsen said.

Asked on the day of the city officials' discussion, Corpuz said he did not want an investigation of Brame.

"I'm not interested in investigating any civil proceedings he's going through at this time," he said.

Meanwhile, city employees said they're trying to cope after an unspeakably hard week.

They say they want answers in the Brame case, but also are increasingly concerned about an atmosphere of blame and finger-pointing.

Friday, employees said they were told to stop discussing the Brame case and its repercussions at City Hall.

Some are calling for restraint and fairness while the city's official investigation proceeds.

"No one could have foreseen or anticipated what has happened," Knudsen said. "The city's interest here is in finding how this happened and how we can prevent it from happening in the future."

Martha Modeen: 253-597-8646

martha.modeen@mail.tribnet.com

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