Special Reports

Gig Harbor denies role in Brame killing

The City of Gig Harbor, responding to a wrongful death claim by Crystal Brame's family, says it's not responsible for her slaying.

"The City of Gig Harbor's position is: Of course it's a very sad and tragic event," said attorney Patricia Buchanan. "While it's an unfortunate thing for the family, it's no way the fault of the City of Gig Harbor."

The claim stems from the death of Crystal Brame, whose husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, fatally shot her April 26 in a Gig Harbor shopping center parking lot.

Paul Luvera, the lawyer for Crystal Brame's family, filed the claim against the city in late November.

The claim, like those brought against the City of Tacoma and its officials and against Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma, gives a range of $12.8 million to $75 million in damages.

By law, anyone who wants to sue a government entity first must file a claim and wait 60 days for a response.

Luvera said he hasn't decided whether to sue Gig Harbor, where both he and Crystal Brame's family live.

Tacoma was sued on Oct. 8 by Crystal Brame's parents, Lane and Patty Judson; her sister, Julie Ahrens; and her children, 8-year-old Haley and 6-year-old David Jr. They allege city officials negligently gave David Brame power and a gun and then did not watch him.

In answering the family's lawsuit earlier this month, Tacoma's attorneys said that if the city was to blame in Crystal Brame's death, then so are other parties, including Gig Harbor, Crystal's attorney, her counselor and her family.

Luvera did not say whether he plans to file claims or suits against other named parties.

In 1996, David Brame told Gig Harbor police about an argument with his wife but did not mention physical abuse, according to reports.

In early April 2003, Crystal Brame called Gig Harbor police and told a records specialist her estranged husband had abused her in the past and that he kept a loaded gun in their bedroom.

She said her husband soon would be served with a restraining order and she wanted to know what she should do if he came to her house, reports show.

The records specialist, who didn't recognize Crystal Brame's name, told her to call 911 if she felt threatened.

Neither of the Brames, who lived in Gig Harbor while married, made an official report of physical violence to the city's police, Chief Mitch Barker has said.

Staff reporter Kris Sherman contributed to this report.

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660