Cops Rarely Pay the Price
domestic violence moved from the back rooms to the front pages
last April when Tacoma, Washington Police Chief David Brame shot
and killed his wife, Crystal Brame, as their two young children
waited nearby. Prior to the shooting, Crystal had filed court
papers accusing her husband of two separate incidents over the
prior six months when David Brame pointed his service revolver
at her and tried to choke her, threatening to "snap [her]
the wake of Brame's death, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
did an extensive investigation into officer-involved domestic
violence in the Seattle area. They found 41 officers who had been
accused of domestic violence within the previous five years, a
number of them accused of multiple incidents. Few paid any professional
price; less than half faced charges, and only one was convicted.
Among the cases unearthed by the Post-Intelligencer are
Police Ofcr. Phil Rees flew into a rage and slammed his wife,
Jenifer, into a wall and hurled a dresser drawer at her, leaving
visible injuries. Rees called King County sheriff's deputies,
who handed her intoxicated husband back his gun and let him drive
away, "so he wouldn't miss work in the morning." No
charges were filed. Rees was not disciplined, despite two prior
complaints of domestic violence against him.
a fight with his wife, Ofcr. Kevin Hawley grabbed his handgun
saying, "I'm going to blow my fucking head off and you're
going to watch." He then put the gun barrel in his mouth
and pressed his cheek against hers. No internal investigation
was conducted. Hawley was promoted to detective.
days before Christmas, Washington State Trooper Ronald Somerville
grabbed his girlfriend by the throat, shoved her over the
couch and pounced on her. When she ran to the phone to call 911,
Somerville snatched the receiver and hung it up. As she darted
for the stairs, he grabbed her again, put his hand around her
throat and pushed her down, shouting, "You don't want to
go out this way." Somerville was charged with 4th degree
assault and vandalism, charges that were later dismissed. His
discipline? A written reprimand.
Post-Intelligencer found that police departments in general
a double standard by not immediately arresting officers accused
of domestic violence.
victims at greater risk by not taking away the officers' guns.
to conduct thorough internal investigations of the incidents.
(In many cases
no review was conducted.)
determining there was wrongdoing in domestic violence complaints
specific policies on how to handle officers accused of abuse.