Questions sent to Lowell City Council about deals offered in Brame death

The Bay State Examiner has sent these questions to the Lowell city councilors and to the City Manager via the city’s website. Alyssa Brame lost consciousness and died in Lowell police custody without any medical intervention despite a large number of Lowell police employees knowing about her condition. The Lowell police put forward eight employees to the City of Lowell City Manager for potential punishment or termination. The City of Lowell has offered deals to at least five of the eight officers, and The Bay State Examiner wants to know why.

Read The Bay State Examiner's previous article on the Brame case here.

Here's the submission I made on July 1, 2014:

Councilors and Manager Murphy,

The Bay State Examiner is covering the consequences of the death of Alyssa Brame in Lowell police custody and we’d like to discuss the deals offered to the officers who were facing potential punishment. If any member of the council or the city manager would like to provide an interview or statement please reach out to me by email.

If you prefer to provide a written response the questions we are seeking answers to are:

The Lowell Sun reported the deals for the five superior officers involved, but not for the three others who faced potential punishment. What were the decisions on punishments for Kevin Lombard, Shawn Tetreault, and William Florence? Did they also receive deals?

Who was involved in setting the terms of the deals offered and who had oversight on the process? Did the council okay the deals?

Both the District Attorney’s report and the Board of Inquiry found that the Lowell Police failed to train the detention officers involved and that the failure factored into Brame’s death – who was responsible for providing and documenting the training of detention officers and how have they been held accountable for their failure which in part led to Brame’s death?

Lieutenant Siopes and Sergeant Nobrega were found by the Board of Inquiry to have misled the Massachusetts State Police and District Attorney’s investigation into Brame’s death – since they have been proven to provide unreliable testimony in important criminal matters their reports and testimony in cases past and future should be questioned. Why would the City of Lowell offer deals that allow these two officers whose testimony and reports cannot be trusted to continue to work? Has anyone in the city government or police department asked the district attorney to look at charging Siopes and Nobrega for misleading the investigation?

Lieutenant Siopes is quoted in the Board of Inquiry report as telling them; “No” he would not have called an ambulance for Brame knowing what he knows now. Siopes comment makes it clear that he would knowingly refuse medical care to a dying person in his custody. Given this admission and the deal offered that would spare his job it is clear knowingly refusing medical care to a dying person in custody isn’t a fire-able offense for a Lowell employee. Is there anything a Lowell police officer would be fired for? If so what?

The Lowell Sun questioned if any hearings on these matters would be open to the public – will they be? If they are not publicly held, why not? Has a date been set for the hearings? If so when and where will they be held?

In the proposed budget for this year the officers who faced potential punishment for Brame’s death will be paid over half a million dollars – Does this represent the City of Lowell’s idea of accountability?

The proposed budget also contains a list of Key Performance Indicators by which the police department will be judged. There are no KPIs based on police accountability (nothing tied to complaints against officers, or reducing incidences of use of force by police, or deaths in custody). The KPIs include numbers for bookings and various levels of offenses expected and even determine an expected number of “juvenile incidents”. These KPIs seem to provide incentive for arrests and bookings while allowing police misconduct to remain a non-factor in determining success. Why does the City of Lowell define success in this manner?

The KPIs also function as a quota for the department. Over four thousand bookings are expected. The City of Lowell has allowed the employment of the Lowell police employees who mishandled Brame’s booking to continue and are planning to pay them over a half million dollars this year – what message does this send to the Lowell police and to the members of the community?

Lastly The Lowell Sun article on the deals states, “... It has been one of his [City manager Murphy] top objectives to resolve the Brame case short of hearings which, both sides have said privately, will raise issues the city will find uncomfortable.” Why would the potential for embarrassment be a higher priority for the City of Lowell than the accountability of the police department and future safety of the public?

I thank you for your time and consideration. I’ll be publishing an article on the matter shortly and would like to present your perspective on this matter.

Thanks, Maya of The Bay State Examiner

Read the Lowell police report based on Boards of Inquiry findings here.

I have not received any response as of today.