Monfort's rantings shake packed King County courtroom
Christopher Monfort, the man charged with killing Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton on Halloween night, shocked his attorneys and a courtroom full of spectators Thursday when he lashed out at the former King County sheriff's deputy accused of assaulting a teen girl in a holding cell in 2008.
Seattle Times staff reporters
Christopher Monfort, the man charged with killing Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton on Halloween night, shocked his attorneys and a courtroom full of spectators Thursday when he lashed out at the former King County sheriff's deputy accused of assaulting a teenage girl in a holding cell in 2008.
Monfort also railed about what he saw as limitations on freedom and his own condition during a more than five-minute outburst before the start of a hearing in King County Superior Court.
In his first public comments since his arrest Nov. 6, Monfort compared the former deputy, Paul Schene, and another deputy also present in the holding cell to Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin.
Monfort said society depends on the police to "protect us from the police as well."
"If the police are wrong, we depend on the police to cross the blue line of silence and apprehend, detain and file charges against those police who are corrupt," said Monfort in a rambling discourse that took place before the judge entered the courtroom.
Prosecutors have alleged it was anger at Schene and the holding-cell incident that drove Monfort to kill Brenton and to firebomb four Seattle police vehicles nine days earlier.
Defense attorney Julie Lawry admonished Monfort, saying "Don't do this," but he ignored her and continued directing his comments to the media and audience.
Among those in the courtroom were Brenton's widow, Lisa Brenton, and Monfort's mother, Suzan, who sat with her head in her hands.
Monfort is charged with one count of aggravated murder — and could face the death penalty — as well as three counts of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson.
Along with the fatal shooting of Brenton and the wounding of his partner, Britt Sweeney, Monfort is accused of firebombing four Seattle police vehicles on Oct. 22.
Prosecutors say Monfort was motivated by anger over Schene, who is accused of beating Malika Calhoun, then 15, in a SeaTac City Hall holding cell after she was arrested for investigation of car theft on Nov. 29, 2008.
The incident, caught on video and released to the news media, gained widespread attention and led to Schene's firing in September.
Schene's first trial on fourth-degree assault ended in a mistrial in January, and prosecutors have said they will retry him.
A note found at the scene of the firebombing specifically mentioned the Schene case. The note writer also focused on rookie sheriff's Deputy Travis Brunner, who was with Schene at the time of the holding-cell incident, according to court documents.
In addition, a written, out-of-date address that once belonged to Schene was found in Monfort's apartment when Seattle police searched it after Monfort's arrest, according to law-enforcement sources.
During previous court hearings, Monfort has remained relatively silent, speaking only to his attorneys. He uses a wheelchair after he was paralyzed by a police officer's bullet when he was arrested. He also suffered a bullet wound to the face.
Monfort, who earned a degree in Law, Societies and Justice from the University of Washington in 2008, talked Thursday about the nation's Founding Fathers, particularly John Adams. He wondered aloud what would have happened if a daughter of one of the them had been beaten in a jail cell.
"Freedom is not free. I'm speaking with a lisp right now. I've got, the side of my face is paralyzed. I can't walk. I'm dead from the waist down," Monfort said.
"Freedom is not free. It requires sacrifice. And although all the freedom we have now has been won for us by our Founding Fathers, from time to time we must maintain that.
"Can anybody here tell me the price of freedom? Anybody? It's death. It's not free."
During his statement, Monfort also vigorously defended press freedom, saying the media were "as important as the air that we breathe."
Later in the hearing, Judge Ronald Kessler heard objections from the defense and prosecution over a public-disclosure request from The Seattle Times related to documents in the Monfort case.
Monfort has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. Prosecutors are weighing whether to seek the death penalty for the slaying of Brenton.
Brenton, 39, and his partner, Britt Sweeney, 33, were seated in their parked patrol car shortly after 10 p.m. Oct. 31 when police say Monfort drove up next to the officers and opened fire. Brenton was killed immediately, and Sweeney suffered minor injuries.
On the day of Monfort's arrest, three Seattle homicide detectives confronted him at his Tukwila apartment. Charging documents say he twice aimed a gun at officers before police shot him, court documents said.
Lisa Brenton and Suzan Monfort declined to comment after the hearing. Both women appeared shaken and were escorted by friends and legal staff into different elevators
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.