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February 17, 2015 at 11:27 AM

Partner of slain Seattle officer testifies in Monfort trial

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Seattle police Officer Britt Sweeney Kelly testifies Tuesday in King County Superior Court. (Christine Clarridge / The Seattle Times)

Update at 3:11 p.m.: Court adjourned for the day Tuesday just after Kelly testified that she and her partner, Timothy Brenton, pulled their patrol car over moments before shots were fired, killing Brenton.

Kelly will resume her testimony Wednesday morning.

Update at 2:31 p.m.: Seattle police Officer Britt Sweeney Kelly is recalling the Halloween night in 2009 that she and her partner, Timothy Brenton, were ambushed on a Leschi street.

Brenton was killed in the attack. Kelly narrowly avoided being hit by gunfire allegedly fired by defendant Christopher Monfort.

Brenton was training Kelly, who was a rookie at the time and known as Britt Sweeney. Kelly is now married to Seattle police Officer Benjamin L. Kelly, who fatally shot Maurice Clemmons in November 2009 after Clemmons killed four Lakewood police officers.

Kelly, testifying Tuesday afternoon in Monfort’s aggravated murder trial, said the night Brenton was killed was only the second night she was with the officer.

Kelly testified at length about a traffic stop the two officers condicted shortly before they were ambushed.

Original post: The Seattle police officer who was a rookie trainee when her partner Timothy Brenton was fatally shot in 2009 will take the witness stand Tuesday afternoon in the aggravated murder trial of Christopher Monfort.

Officer Britt Sweeney will testify in King County Superior Court following the lunch break.

Brenton, 39, and Sweeney were on patrol on Halloween night 2009 when Brenton was shot in Leschi. Sweeney, who was able to duck the bullets, returned fire at the gunman’s car as it sped off.

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Timothy Brenton

Monfort, 46, is on trial on five felony charges, including aggravated first-degree murder, the only crime for which death is a possible penalty. Monfort was paralyzed below the waist after he was shot by detectives investigating Brenton’s killing.

While Monfort’s defense is claiming he was insane when he killed Brenton and tried to kill other police officers, the prosecution contends Monfort deliberately stalked and targeted police solely because they wore a badge. The trial started on Jan. 20.

During testimony Tuesday morning, a longtime friend of Monfort testified about Monfort’s longtime dislike for police, fueled by what he believed were instances of police misconduct and brutality.

William Beukema, who said he had been friends with Monfort since both were students at Highline Community College, said they shared strong views about justice and police and government accountability.

Beukema said he grew up in a “poor” part of town where distrust of police was not uncommon.

He and Monfort agreed that surveillance video showing former King County sheriff’s Deputy Paul Schene slamming a 15-year-old girl into the wall of a holding cell and throwing her to the floor was outrageous, Beukema said.

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Christopher Monfort

They agreed something needed to be done, but differed on what that should be.

Monfort felt citizens should act to make police fearful and to remind them that they worked for the people.

“He said every citizen should react as if that teenage girl were their daughter,” Beukema said on the stand.

Beukema said he didn’t have a solution, but told Monfort that striking out against the police with violence could have “unintended consequences” and that more innocent people could be hurt in a “climate” where police were alert, apprehensive and fearful of ambush.

Beukema said he was shocked to learn of Monfort’s arrest as shooting a random officer seemed at odds with Monfort’s commitment to justice.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Christopher Monfort, death penalty, King County Superior Court

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