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Brizendine, Officer James C.
End of Watch:
Thursday, July 21, 1955
The G & R Grocery was once located around the 4100 block of Roosevelt Way. The owner, Vic, always had a pot of Italian food for Seattle’s finest. It was a favorite spot for Seattle officers to take their meal and coffee breaks. Shortly after midnight on July 21, 1955, Officer James C. “Briz” Brizendine, 32, was enjoying some Italian food with his partner, Officer William Lance. Shortly after leaving and around 1:00 a.m., Brizendine and Lance were dispatched to a prowler call.
Officer Lance was driving. He dropped off Brizendine near the address. After dropping Brizendine off, Lance drove around to the back. As he entered the back yard, he heard a shot and screaming.
After calling the police about the prowler, the owner of the home called some of her neighbors, including Renato Bellotti who lived next door. A short time later, Bellotti looked out his kitchen window, and saw Brizendine in his back yard with a flashlight. Bellotti got his shotgun and stood by the kitchen window. Brizendine moved towards the house. When he got to within six feet of the kitchen window, Bellotti raised his shotgun and fired one shot. Brizendine yelled, “Don’t shoot. I’m the police”, but it was too late. Officer Brizendine was shot in the abdomen. Officer Lance rushed to his partner’s side. Bellotti ran into the back yard and told Lance he had just shot a prowler. Officer Lance informed him that he had just shot a police officer. Officer Brizendine was rushed to King County Hospital. He died at 1:45 a.m. Bellotti told police that he did not recognize Brizendine as a police officer. He stated he had thought, “It was him or me”.
Officer James C. Brizendine was survived by his wife, Edna, and two step-daughters whom he had adopted. His funeral was held on 7-27-1955 at the Greenwood Masonic Temple. Officer Brizendine is buried at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery.
Renato Bellotti was charged with manslaughter. He pled guilty. Following the recommendation of the Seattle Police Department and the Prosecuting Attorney, the court deferred his sentencing for three years on the condition that he possessed no firearms during that time.
James Cody Brizendine was born on November 3, 1922 in Richmond, Missouri. By 1930, the family was living in Pueblo, CO. James enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1941. He served on several ships during WW II including the battleship USS Nevada BB-36. The USS Nevada was the only battleship able to get under way during the attack on Pearl Harbor. James married his wife Edna on December 7, 1948. Edna Brizendine never re-married.