Christopher Monfort as a UW scholar in 2008.
UPDATE: The college student who sold Monfort his Datsun says the alleged cop-killer creeped him out. Details


Christopher Monfort, Suspect in Murder of Officer Tim Brenton, Wanted to Be a Cop

Christopher Monfort as a UW scholar in 2008.
UPDATE: The college student who sold Monfort his Datsun says the alleged cop-killer creeped him out. Details after the jump.

Thanks to the hard work of reporters at the Seattle Times and P-I, we now know a lot more about Christopher Monfort, the 41-year-old Tukwila man suspected of killing Officer Timothy Brenton on Halloween night. And the more we learn, the more Monfort lines up with the profile provided by Seattle police on Thursday: a man who both acts like, and admires, the police officer he gunned down.

The paper-trail left behind by Monfort suggests a man whose idealism may have soured over time into disillusionment. Rosemary Stevens rented a room to Monfort 18 years ago in Pasadena. The actress tells the P-I that while he was working as a waiter in a steakhouse, Monfort's dream was to wear a badge for the L.A.P.D.

Monfort at UW showing his project on the controversial theory of "jury nullification."
Monfort's story picks up again in 2004, when he was studying in the administration of justice program at Highline Community College. Garry Wegner is the program's coordinator and Monfort's former adviser. The program is often used as a training ground for future cops, but Wegner says police work was no longer Monfort's goal.

Wegner says Monfort told him he "wanted to make a difference in society" so he suggested law school. Monfort earned his bachelors in Law, Societies and Justice at the University of Washington in March of 2008. Afterwards, he applied for a minority scholars program, a natural pre-cursor to graduate school, and listed Wegner as his inspiration.

"You've shaken me to my toes," Wegner told a Times reporter when told of his former proteges arrest.

While in the UW scholarship program, Monfort focused on the work of Paul Butler, a law professor at George Washington University. Butler is a proponent of a controversial tactic known as jury nullification, whereby a jury can ignore a judge's instructions and acquit defendants, especially black defendants convicted of a non-violent crime, no matter how strong the case against them.

"It is the moral responsibility of black jurors to emancipate some guilty black outlaws," Butler wrote in a 1995 Yale Law Journal article, adding: "My goal is the subversion of American criminal justice, at least as it now exists."

As the Times reports, Monfort, who is half-black, wrote in his project abstract that he wished to "illimunate and further" Butler's scholarship.

Wegner is the last person quoted to have spoken at length with Monfort. He says they touched base five or six months ago. Monfort was "driving truck" and volunteering his Friday's at a juvenile detention center.

According to a police source, Monfort was said to have been laid off recently from a job as a security guard or private investigator. He has no known felony history. But in the last two years, Monfort was cited for three traffic infractions, including driving without insurance on October 16th, roughly two weeks before the shooting.

On October 22nd, four police vehicles went up in flames at a maintenance yard near Qwest Field. Investigators later revealed that a note threatening police officers, a pipe bomb and anti-police-brutality fliers were found at the scene. Police are now saying Monfort is suspected of that arson as well.

Attempts to reach Monfort's mother Suzan have thus far been unsuccessful. But the Times did speak with Vicki Malone, her business partner in a Curves in Bethel, Alaska, who said that Suzan was on her way to Seattle to check on the condition of her only child.

Monfort was upgraded from critical to serious condition this morning at Harborview. He was shot in the head yesterday after pulling a gun on officers attempting to talk to him outside his Tukwila apartment. More information as it comes.

UPDATE: The search also turned up evidence that a police source told the Times may be connected to the October 22nd arson at a police maintenance yard that torched three squad cars.

UPDATE: Police say an American flag was recovered from both the shooting and the arson.

So even before Monfort was a suspect, police had good reason to suspect the same man was behind both crimes. Police also found two rifles inside Monfort's apartment. Including one "military-style" assault rifle that may have been used in the shooting.

UPDATE: Seattle Crime reports that there's tension between the rank-and-file and the higher-ups at the police department.

One officer who Jonah Spangenthal-Lee spoke with was frustrated that the note threatening the lives of police officers found at the October 22nd arson wasn't made public. He told Lee that normally after such information is shared, officers avoid doing routine traffic stops or pulling over on the side of the road, the same position Officer Brenton was in when he was murdered.

Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb says that the break-in at the police maintenance yard should have been enough to put officers on alert.

UPDATE: Prosecutors are considering filing an aggravated first-degree murder charge against Monfort. The only two penalties are life in prison or the death penalty.

Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, told the Times that the charge could come by the middle of the week. Meanwhile, defense attorneys are apparently "jockeying" for the chance to represent Monfort. Understandable, since whoever gets to be his lawyer will presumably get a lot of ink and the rare chance to work a death penalty case.

UPDATE: Julie Lawry, a public defender with Associated Council for the Accused, tells the Times that Monfort hasn't spoken with his family or an attorney since being shot.

"I have been told he's in a secure location, he hasn't asked for an attorney and we can't see him," Lawry told the Times. "I don't know if he has the mental capacity to request a lawyer. He's being isolated from anyone who can assist him."

Lawry's hearing is at 4 PM today. We've got a call in with her and will update the story as soon as we hear back.

UPDATE: At an afternoon news conference, police say DNA found at the arson and murder of Officer Brenton matches up with what they've recovered from Monfort's apartment. They also say the assault rifle owned by Monfort is a ballistics match to the weapon used to shoot Brenton and Sweeney.

Assistant Chief Pugel also gave more information about the arson that claimed four police vehicles. He said they believe that Monfort set the first vehicle on fire as bait in order to harm first responders with the three bombs he then used to blow up the other cars.

The assault rifle police linked to the Brenton murder.

A bomb laying on Monfort's stove, possibly rigged as a booby trap.

Improvised explosives.

And a bag full of more home-made bombs.

The Datsun police say Monfort was driving. Investigators say the car has a bullet hole, presumably from when Officer Sweeney returned fire.

UPDATE: Monfort left two notes at the scene. One of which he dedicated to Travis Bruner, the trainee who witnessed the beating of a 15-year-old girl by a King County deputy.

The note says: "These deaths are dedicated to Deputy Travis Bruner. You swear on a solemn oath to protect us from all harm, that includes you. Start policing each other or get ready to attend a lot of police funerals."

UPDATE: According to King 5, investigators found "massive" amounts of child pornography on Monfort's computer. But no one else is talking.

The report is a day old, but since then no one else has reported the same development. So is it true? Don Donohoe, spokesman for the King County prosecutor's office, says we'll just have to wait until tomorrow.

"On that specific information I'm going to hold off on any comment," he says.

A formal announcement of the charges against Monfort should be made at tomorrow's 10:30 AM news conference. We'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Carey Rose sold Monfort his 1980 Datsun 210 hatchback in the summer of 2008. The alleged killer seemed normal, said Rose, except that he wouldn't stop calling him to complain about the car's gas mileage.

We signed our names. I handed him the keys, he handed me $900 in cash, and I thought that was that.

Monfort called me a day or two later, saying he was in the area and asking if I was at my house. He said he had driven 30 miles, or roughly the distance from Bellevue to his home in Tukwila and then back again. He said he had clocked the gas mileage at approximately 20 miles per gallon. I had advertised it as 27.

At first, I was concerned. This man I barely know lives in Tukwila but is suddenly back in my neighborhood with complaints. I still wonder why he thought it was appropriate to come to my home to tell me about this when no more than a phone call was needed. In addition, I was irritated because 30 miles isn't a long-enough distance to measure fuel consumption. I politely explained that to him, and he agreed to go through a full tank. He then asked if I wanted to jam. I said not today.

I continued to receive the occasional text message and voicemail from Monfort during the weeks that followed. At first he continued to complain about the gas mileage, though he eventually conceded that he was mistaken in his measurements.

He continued to insist that he wanted to jam with me, and I continued to make excuses.

(H/T: Seattle 911)
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