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Bridges 10/29/2007

Bridges found not guilty
Sommer Woodward
Staff Reporter

Lisa Nicole Bridges, 25, was found not guilty of assault and battery on a police officer Thursday by a jury of her peers.

“I’m not surprised, but I felt the jury did their job,” said Assistant District Attorney Jessica Carriger. “They looked at the evidence and returned a verdict that they thought was fair and within the law and that’s what jurors are supposed to do.”

Bridges, who still has a felony case pending for knowingly concealing stolen property, was accused of hitting Mayes County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Yeager when he attempted to arrest her on a felony warrant.

According to testimony, Yeager said he encountered Bridges when he responded to a disturbance at the Microtel south of Pryor.

He discovered Mayes County had a felony warrant for her arrest and went to knock on her hotel room door.

While he was knocking on her door, Bridges approached Yeager and asked if she could help him.

She identified herself as Lisa Nicole Bridges and Yeager explained he had a warrant and began to place her under arrest.

Bridges testified Yeager asked her to put down her belongings before he put her hands loosely in handcuffs. She said Yeager then placed her prenatal vitamins under her arm. At the time of the arrest, Bridges was three months pregnant.

Testimony from both Yeager and Bridges is similar up to this point.

The discrepancy centered around whether Bridges slid her right hand out of the handcuffs to hit Yeager or not.

Yeager testified when Bridges was on the top step of the second floor stairs, her vitamins fell. He said she slid her right hand out of the handcuffs and swung it back, hitting him in the face, then swung her left hand with the handcuff still attached.

Yeager said he pushed Bridges to keep her from hitting him and she fell against the wall at the bottom of six or seven steps.

When he attempted to put her right hand back in the handcuff, he said she resisted arrest, so he put her on the floor.

Bridges testified she never hit Yeager, that she only slipped her hand out of the handcuffs to pick up her vitamins. She accused Yeager of knocking the vitamins out from under her arm on purpose.

She testified when she bent to pick up the vitamins, her left arm may have swung back, causing Yeager to think she was going to hit him with the handcuffs. She said at that point, Yeager pushed her into the wall approximately six steps down.

She claimed she wasn’t resisting arrest when he came down the stairs, but was only attempting to keep her stomach away from the wall to protect her baby. That’s when Yeager took her to the floor.

“I did tell him ‘you hurt my child’,” she testified.

She said her lip was busted and bleeding, she had carpet burn on her chin and her nose was swollen from the incident.

Yeager testified he saw the blood on her lip and took her to the hospital for a checkup after the incident was over.

Carriger, who was arguing her first jury trial, reminded the jury they only had to consider whether the State of Oklahoma proved five elements to the crime of assault and battery on a police officer.

The elements include:

• assault and battery,

• upon a police officer,

• known by the defendant to be a police officer,

• without justifiable or excusable cause and

• committed while the police officer was in the performance of his duties as a police officer.

Carriger said the state had to prove Bridges committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, not all doubt.

During her final closing, Carriger reminded the jury to consider the interest Bridges has in the outcome of the trial when determining her truthfulness.

She questioned why Bridges never filed a formal complaint against Yeager if her testimony was correct.

“I think testimony shows she hit him,” she said.

Determining who is telling the truth, she finished, “is your job.”

Defense attorney Patrick Adams accused Yeager of overreacting and making a mistake during closing arguments.

Adams said no evidence existed of any mark on Yeager’s face. He speculated if a mark existed, officers would have taken pictures of the mark for evidence.

He suggested a “reasonable” person would “stand up and say I made a mistake.” He suggested Yeager thought Bridges was going to hit him and overreacted, but instead of admitting the mistake, accused her of hitting him in the face.

Adams said the state failed to prove Bridges was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“If you’re going to have a doubt, now is the time,” said Adams.

The jury returned with a not guilty verdict a little under two hours after getting the instructions.

Bridges, who was crying after the verdict was read, left the courtroom a free woman.

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