SEATTLE — Five years after Christopher Monfort killed Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton, Monfort is on trial for murder as his defense team attempts to convince a jury that he is mentally ill.
As he entered the courtroom Tuesday, he told KIRO 7, “American citizens have a responsibility, to protect their rights and the rights of other citizens.”
On his way out, he said, “hands up, don’t shoot,” mimicking the refrain of protesters against police brutality.
On Oct. 22, 2009, Monfort set off bombs at Seattle’s Charles Street complex where police vehicles are parked. Several units, including a half-million dollar mobile command unit, were destroyed.
More than a week later on Oct. 31, Monfort killed Officer Timothy Brenton, while he was in a parked car reviewing notes from a traffic stop with Officer Brit Sweeney, who had just graduated from the police academy two months prior. Sweeney was grazed with a bullet, while Brenton died from being shot three times by a high-powered semi-automatic assault rifle.
A week later on Nov. 6, on the day of Brenton’s public funeral, Monfort was captured by law enforcement at a Tukwila apartment complex. There, prosecutors said he attempted to shoot at another officer. Officers shot back, and one bullet lodged in Monfort’s spine, which is why he is now in a wheelchair.
Inside his apartment, police found homemade bombs, and books and articles about police brutality.
Prosecuting Attorney John Castleton explained to jurors Tuesday that Oct. 22 had become a day for protesters to speak out against police brutality.
Castleton said one demonstration that day “was peaceful, and it was civil. But there was another demonstration that same day several hours earlier that was neither peaceful nor civil.”
During the murder of Brenton the week after, Castleton said a neighbor had seen Monfort’s car stalking Brenton’s squad car.
Castleton described what the rookie officer observed when Monfort started shooting: “Glass was flying from her side window, the noise was deafening, and as soon as it started, it stopped.”
Monfort’s attorney emphasized how incidents around the country of police killing citizens were significant for him, a man academically successful in law and the constitution.
His attorney, Todd Gruenhagen, played a video clip of King County Deputy Paul Schene beating a teen in a jail cell. This incident from 2009 was somewhat of a tipping point for Monfort, Gruenhagen said.
“He’s going to act on his delusions. Now he doesn’t act like you would, or I would, but he is going to act as a result of his delusional thought processes,” he said.
Gruenhagen said Monfort has been diagnosed with delusional disorder. Of the sub categories of this disease, he said Monfort has a combination of grandiose, persecutory and paranoid types of delusion.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, someone with delusional disorder could appear normal except in reference to the one subject with which he or she is obsessed.