A man accused of killing a Seattle police officer is the first King County Jail inmate to get a television in his cell.
Christopher Monfort is accused of murdering Officer Timothy Brenton three years ago. The TV is needed to ease the effects of his isolation, Claudia Balducci, the jail’s director, told The Seattle Times.
Monfort spends 23 hours a day in his cell, but unlike other “ultra-security” inmates, he doesn’t have any neighbors with whom he can talk or play cards under their doors. He’s in a separate area due to his medical condition: He was paralyzed by a detective’s bullet during his arrest.
“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,” Balducci said. “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 we can.”
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Monfort is expected to receive the small, color television in the next few days, and he’ll have fewer options than basic cable. He’ll have to turn it off at night.
He didn’t request it, Balducci said.
The Seattle Police Department released a statement opposing the decision, and Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Rich O’Neill called it appalling.
“This is the anniversary month of Tim’s murder. This is just terrible,” O’Neill said. “I received a phone call (Friday) from Tim’s brother, who couldn’t agree more that this is appalling. (Monfort) is lonely and he needs a TV. Tim’s family is lonely.”
Monfort, 44, is charged with aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of Brenton and attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of officer-trainee Britt Sweeney on Oct. 31, 2009. The pair were in a parked patrol car in the Leschi neighborhood when Monfort pulled up and opened fire, authorities said.
According to prosecutors, the shooting came nine days after Monfort firebombed four police vehicles at a city maintenance yard. Police said one of the makeshift bombs was set to go off as police and firefighters arrived to investigate the initial blasts.
Detectives arrested Monfort days later after a tip led to a Tukwila apartment complex. Monfort pulled out a handgun and pointed it at police, but the weapon misfired, according to prosecutors. Montfort was shot in the face and abdomen when he tried to flee, they said.
Monfort is scheduled to be tried next September. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
His lawyer, Carl Luer, said the “effects of the isolation have had a severe impact” on Monfort. Luer called it “a reasonable response to a medical necessity.”
“He’s far more isolated than any other inmate in there,” Luer said. “The jail health staff realize that.”