Seattle cop killer Chris Monfort dies in prison

By: Casey McNerthney

Updated:

Christopher Monfort, the man who killed a Seattle police officer in a planned attack on Halloween 2009, died in prison Wednesday. 

Monfort was in the Walla Walla penitentiary since 2015, when he received a life sentence in place of the death penalty.

Monfort was found unresponsive in his single cell on Wednesday morning. There were no signs of foul play and no evidence of self harm, according to the Department of Corrections.

>> Related: Seattle cop killer Christopher Monfort sentenced

Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead. Officials are waiting on the coroner's report to find out what happened. 

Planned attack on Halloween night

Monfort was 41 when he killed Timothy Brenton on Halloween night 2009, near the intersection of East Yesler Way and 29th Avenue South. He also wounded Brenton's partner, Britt Kelly, when he fired .223 rounds into their patrol car.

Kelly recovered and in 2015 recalled the traumatic experience in testimony against Monfort. Kelly returned to patrol and remains a Seattle officer.  Monfort also was found guilty of her attempted murder

Monfort also was convicted of arson for destroying vehicles at a city maintenance yard weeks before the fatal attack. The Charles Street maintenance yard bombing was meant to kill first responders, evidence showed. At each scene, the maintenance yard and the homicide location, Monfort left American flags. . 

Monfort said later he was outraged at actions of police, specifically video of King County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Schene slamming a 15-year-old girl against a jail cell wall. Schene was fired, was not supported by his union and went to trial for assault, but was acquitted in two trials -- one before Brenton's murder and one after. 

Monfort targeted Seattle police even though Schene didn't work for the department. He picked Brenton and Sweeney at random.

Family members expressed Brenton’s sense of duty, character and honor, while they denounced Monfort in his sentencing two years ago.

Lisa Brenton said that her husband’s worst fears were to grow old and become paralyzed, two things, she said, Monfort would now experience in prison.

>> Related: Raw video of Lisa Brenton speaking in Monfort's sentencing

“You took away their father and their ability to grow up in safe world," Lisa Brenton told Monfort, speaking of her two children. "You took away him never knowing what they would look like when they grew up and the amazing people they’ve become.”
 
Captured after six-day manhunt
 
After the murder, Monfort was on the run during a six-day manhunt. Police received dozens of tips, including one about a 1980s Datsun 210 that was covered after police circulated a flying trying to find such a car. 

Monfort, who covered that car outside at his Tukwila apartment, was found there by homicide detectives as Brenton's memorial was ending at KeyArena.

Monfort fled when confronted and hid in a stairwell as detectives followed. When Detective Gary Nelson turned the corner, Monfort put a gun to his face and tried to fire.

Nelson's life was spared because Monfort hadn't loaded a round in the chamber. He was later convicted of attempted murder for the attempt on Nelson's life. 

Nelson and two other homicide detectives each fired twice, paralyzing Monfort and striking him in the face.

Inside Monfort's apartment, police found homemade bombs and homemade hand grenades on the kitchen stove with fuses touching the element. Police entered on that rainy night in November 2009 only after the Seattle Police Bomb Squad secured the area.

Monfort, whose defense costs were more than $5 million, was confined to a wheelchair until the end of his life. 

At his sentencing, Monfort told the court that he was sorry for the family, and that he realized he had killed a good man. Previously in court he went on outbursts and long-winded rants and against police. 

Judge Ronald Kessler told Monfort he had wasted potential.

“What could have been a life seeking social justice will now be spent in prison," Kessler said at Monfort's sentencing. "Had the jury returned a verdict of death, we would be reading about Mr. Monfort for the next 15 or 20 years. The jury, having decided to be merciful, in a year, there will be a one-inch story in the newspaper about his appeal.

"And Mr. Monfort will pass into pitiless insignificance."

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