A Mayes County deputy who is being sued by the widow of a man he fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2014 told jurors on Tuesday that he knew the man and had considered him a friend, and only opened fire only after the man began shooting at him.
Mayes County deputy Sgt. Richard Kyle Wilson took the stand Tuesday during the second day of his civil trial in federal court in Tulsa and told jurors that on the night of the shooting, Shane Bridges, 33, had exited his house with a gun and fired shots at him before Wilson returned fire, killing Bridges.
Also on Tuesday, Bridge’s widow, Janelle Bridges, testified that she did not hear her husband pick up or fire a weapon prior to Wilson shooting at him, and that she heard her husband come back inside the house prior to Wilson opening fire.
Attorneys for Janelle Bridges argue that Shane Bridges was inside the house when Wilson shot him. On Monday, an OSBI crime scene agent stated that Wilson fired 13 shots, at least 10 of those shots hit Bridges’ house and eight bullets entered the house. Six of the bullets could be accounted for, either through bullet holes on the far inside wall or bullets found in the house. Bridges was hit by two bullets.
Bridges’ attorney Thomas Mortensen told jurors that after the shooting, law enforcement officers “did a bit of staging” of the crime scene.
The Bridges were married in June 2013 and had a child together in October of that year. Both had children from previous relationships.
Janelle Bridges told jurors that she, Shane Bridges and the children often went fishing, hunting, arrowhead hunting, and that her husband was a good father who worked to instill manners, a good work ethic and a love of the outdoors in his children.
“Anything we did, we did together,” Janelle Bridges said.
Shortly before the shooting, the Bridges and six children, including the 3-year-old child of Janelle Bridges’ sister who had been placed in the Bridges’ custody, celebrated the new year at their rural home by firing off weapons in their yard at midnight.
Janelle Bridges testified that she had fired one shot from her Ruger Blackhawk .357 caliber revolver during the festivities and Shane had fired off two shots from the gun.
Later, when investigators examined the weapon, they found three spent cartridges and three live cartridges in the revolver.
After the festivities, the children went to bed and Janelle laid down in the bedroom to feed the baby she said. Shane Bridges had sat down on a love seat to tie his shoe and sat the revolver down on the floor nearby, she said.
Wilson’s attorneys pointed out that, at one point in her 2016 deposition, Janelle Bridges had said Shane Bridges had placed the gun on a nearby dresser, though at another point she also said he put it on the floor, her attorneys said.
When the 3-year-old’s mother called shortly after midnight and asked Shane Bridges to bring the child to her house, which was nearby, he refused. She called 911 and told authorities that Bridges had sounded drunk on the phone, was threatening the child and had also threatened suicide.
Wilson testified that when the call came over the radio, he took it, though he was on the other side of the county, because he knew Bridges and had previously hired Wilson to trim trees at his house. Wilson also had experience working with mentally ill people, and ran a group home on his property for individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, Wilson said.
Wilson also told another deputy — former Mayes County deputy Brett Mull — that he would take the call, though Mull headed to the call as well after clearing a separate call he was on.
Wilson said he turned off the siren on his cruiser about a mile from the Bridges’ home and turned off his emergency lights before pulling up their driveway at 1:25 a.m.
Janelle Bridges testified that she heard Wilson’s car approaching and could see his headlights shining on her wall through the bedroom window as he approached. Janelle Bridges said she heard the car stop outside the house, heard her husband get up, open the door and then close it, and then rapid gunshots from outside.
“It was so fast and so quick, I didn’t comprehend what was going on,” Bridges said.
Wilson said he was surprised as well, and did not think Shane Bridges would shoot at him.
“I knew Shane. We were friends and I didn’t think there would be any issues whatsoever,” Wilson said. “Worst-case scenario, if he was suicidal, he would’ve got to the hospital to get evaluated.”
Bridges said the house is old, and because of the weather stripping on the front door, it must be slammed to fully close it. She said she did not hear Shane Bridges walk toward the room to retrieve the gun from the floor and did not hear any gunshots prior to the rapid shots. However, on cross-examination, she also said she did not see where Shane was when he was shot and did not see whether he was holding a gun when he was shot.
A neighbor also testified on Tuesday that he only heard a series of rapid shots, rather than a single gunshot followed by a series of rapid shots.
Wilson testified that when he pulled up to the house and got out of his cruiser, Shane Bridges opened the door, walked out onto the porch and fired a shot to the west, not toward him. After that, Wilson said, he called Bridges’ name and Bridges turned toward him and began firing the gun. Wilson said he unholstered his Glock .45 service revolver and returned fire as Bridges stood on the porch shooting at him.
Janelle Bridges said, after the shots were fired, she got up and ran into the living room, stepping over the .357 handgun on the floor where she said Shane Bridges had put it earlier that night. She saw her husband laying on the floor. The front door, she said, was closed.
“I rolled him over and he said ‘babe,’ and his eyes rolled back,” Janelle Bridges said through tears.
Meanwhile, Wilson said he reloaded his weapon, took cover on the other side of his cruiser and radioed in a shots fired call. Wilson said he could not recall whether the door was open or shut immediately after he fired the shots.
Janelle Bridges then began calling out asking who was outside and put her hands out the door. She and Wilson both testified that Wilson mistook Janelle Bridges, who had never met Wilson, for her sister and he told her “It’s Kyle. It’s me.”
Janelle Bridges said she told Wilson that Shane was injured and both went inside the house. Wilson said he asked her where the gun was and she pointed him to the .357 revolver laying on the floor.
“It was a gun laying on the floor that had just been used to try and kill me,” Wilson said, “so I grabbed it and secured it.”
Wilson said he picked the gun up and took it out to his cruiser, retrieved his medical bag and went back into the house to render aid to Shane.
Seconds later, deputy Mull, along with a reserve deputy, arrived on the scene.
Mull, who also testified Tuesday, said he sat the distraught Janelle Bridges down on a couch and told Wilson to exit the house, before he and the reserve deputy removed the children and Janelle Bridges from the house.
Mull said he then took possession of the .357 revolver, Wilson’s service weapon and a magazine from Wilson’s gun that had been left outside.
“Kyle was very shaken up,” Mull said. “He knew Shane.”
Mull said that he saw between 10 and 50 shell casings on the floor of the house
Mull was fired from the Mayes County Sheriff’s Department last year after investigators discovered he had allegedly been taking and using methamphetamine that had been seized as evidence. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of tampering with or destruction of evidence and acquiring controlled, dangerous substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery or deception. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 2.
Janelle Bridges said she returned to the house the next day to pick up some clothing for her and the kids, and that she was given a copy of a search warrant for the house. When she returned to the house a few days later, she said that the condition of the house was completely different from when she left that night.
“It looked like a completely different house,” Janelle Bridges said.
Empty and crushed beer cans were all over the floor and furniture, a bottle of liquor that had been in the refrigerator was out on the counter, stockings that had been hung on the wall were on the floor, chairs that had been upright were laying on the floor, dirty dishes had been taken out of the sink and dishwasher and left out and trash was everywhere.
“That would have never been like that,” Janelle Bridges said. “It was weird. Random stuff everywhere. It was out of place. There were beer cans on the couch.”
Bridges’ attorneys admitted into evidence photos taken by Janelle around 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve that showed the house in a much different condition.
Wilson said he never re-entered the house after being told to go outside by Mull, and that he did not hear any other law officers talking about staging the scene or making a mess at the house.
On cross examination, Janelle Bridges said she and Shane had been drinking that night, but did not leave beer cans out, and though Shane had at least six beers he was not stumbling or slurring his words.
Later, in an interview with OSBI agents, Wilson would say that Bridges fired the first shot away from him, but that he fired four shots in his direction afterwards.
“If he fired four and did not reload, there would be two (live rounds) left (in the revolver),” Wilson said when questioned by attorneys about the three live rounds in .357 revolver.
Wilson said he would not have fired his gun had Bridges been inside the house.
“If the plaintiff was inside and the door was shut, there wouldn’t have been a shooting to begin with,” he said.
On Tuesday, Wilson’s civil trial will resume, as his defense continues to make its case. U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell said he expects closing arguments may occur as early as Thursday.