Seattle police officer who witnessed partner's murder talks about the ordeal

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @LByronK5

KING5.com

Posted on November 7, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Officer Britt Sweeney was still learning how to be a cop a year ago Halloween.

"Just the basics to be honest with you, how to call in where you are when you go on a traffic stop," she said. "That's what we were talking about at that moment we were sitting there."

Sweeney was in a patrol car with her field training Officer Tim Brenton, unaware all of her training was about to be tested.

"Probably about when I heard gunfire over my head," she said.

Sweeney pulled her own gun and fired back.

"It was not thought, it was pure action," she said.

Sweeney was grazed by a bullet, but Brenton was dead.

"Looked in front of the patrol car," she said. "I knew."

Asked if it was the hardest moment of her life, she said "I don't think it's ever easy to see someone you were just with dead in such a cold blooded way."

And it's not easy to be the survivor.

"You can't question why things happen.  They just do.  And to sit and question why I lived when Tim died is a waste of energy because there is no answer," said Sweeney.

Days later, Seattle Police arrested Christopher Monfort. He allegedly tried to fire on the officers and took a police bullet becoming paralyzed from the waist down. 

Two months later, Sweeney went back to work.

"Everything was a threat to me. It's very taxing...to be on shift for 9 hours and constantly have your head on a swivel, staring at everything that walks," she said.

Time has eased the anxiety.

"You know I'm still a rookie and I am gonna be a rookie for a long time, I don't know the tip of the iceberg and that's okay, I'm out there and I feel good," she said.

She's a rookie who faced what few officers will face in a lifetime of police work, yet she's never doubted her call to duty.

"You gotta make a difference out there, I'm not here on this planet to go to the grave without making my mark," she said.

On Saturday, Sweeney was honored with the medal of valor. The Seattle Police Foundation says even though Sweeney had been struck and nearly deafened by a rifle shot, she was able to radio that her partner had been shot and later return fire. They say Sweeney showed devotion to duty and service in keeping with the highest standards of law enforcement

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