Special Reports

Family contacted city before shootings, papers say

David Ahrens, brother-in-law of Crystal Judson Brame, says a city employee rebuffed his efforts to file a complaint against Police Chief David Brame the day before the chief fatally shot his wife and himself.

The employee, former communications director Dan Voelpel, said he doesn’t remember the conversation.

The allegation, unrevealed since the shootings of April 26, 2003, briefly appears in the deposition of former City Manager Ray Corpuz, who said he wasn’t aware of the complaint.

Ahrens said he still has notes on his computer of his conversation with Voelpel on April 25, 2003. Ahrens said he wanted to file a complaint against Brame. He said Voelpel told him he could not, because he wasn’t a city employee. Ahrens said he would have his wife Julie, an employee of the city’s municipal court, file the complaint instead. He said Voelpel replied that she couldn’t file the complaint either, because she wasn’t a police employee.

“That’s really where I lost it,” Ahrens said. “He said, ‘There will be no investigation, period.’ I said, ‘This is b.s. Something needs to be done about Brame.’”

Ahrens said he identified himself to Voelpel, who replied, “I know who you are.”

Voelpel, now a business columnist for The News Tribune, said he didn’t recall the conversation with Ahrens, or anyone related to Brame or his wife. He said he’d never heard the allegation.

He said he was taking numerous calls from journalists that day, because reports of Brame’s contentious divorce were surfacing in the media. He was repeating a prepared statement to all of them, prompted by Corpuz and the city attorney, that the city did not plan to investigate Brame.

Voelpel said he thought he would remember the conversation Ahrens described.

“I was and am unfamiliar with city complaint processes,” he said. “It would be totally out of character for me to advise anybody on what might and might not qualify as a complaint.”

Sean Robinson 597-8486