When accused Seattle cop killer Christopher Monfort was given a TV set to watch in his downtown jail cell last year, officials said it was to give him some relief from the monotony of isolation and the impact it was having on him. But new jail documents tell a different story: Officials decided to give him the TV after he cut himself with a razor, and they chose not to mention the attempted suicide when reporters called.
Censored incident reports, just filed in the court case against Monfort, indicate Monfort was also throwing up blood at the time, about 3:30 in the morning. Most of the suicide specifics are blacked out but the words "razor," "suicide attempt" and "deep, self-inflicted" are visible. One report says the injuries were not serious.
A few days later, according to jail e-mails, officials decided to provide Monfort with a TV, and devised talking points to handle media calls when they announced it.
County detention director Claudia Balducci listed such media "bullet points" as explaining that the jail must be made safe for all inmates despite their crimes, that the paralyzed Monfort had been jailed three years, and that he incurs "unusual isolation" because he's a high-risk inmate (due to the nature of his crime and possible sentence - the death penalty).
TV is a common "tool" the jail uses to manage inmate behavior, she wrote in her advisory on what to say to reporters. "In Mr. Monfort's case, it was decided that [due to] his specific risks and needs - we would need to provide some distraction for him..."
The next day, Oct. 19, in a story about Monfort's new TV, the Seattle Times quoted Balducci saying, "We were looking for ways to provide some type of interaction, some way of being involved with other human beings. All of the other inmates have that and he does not...Our job is to keep people stable and to keep them safe so they can get through their court cases. In doing that we try to provide as humane environment [as] we can."
The suicide attempt didn't come up.
(As you'll see below, the documents used for this story were requested from the court by the Times, which at this point Monday a.m. has not yet reported the suicide try).