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Prison time for man who shot at Luther police

Bison Blinds

A Harrah man who shot at Luther police officers and Oklahoma county law enforcement a year ago will serve prison time. At his blind no contest plea sentencing, Oklahoma County District Judge Amy Palumbo sentenced Bryant Leon Hodges, 43, to 35 years in prison on four counts of shooting with intent to kill, 10 years on a single count of pointing a firearm at another, three years on the charge of failure to possess a distiller’s license, and 10 years on the count of a felon in possession of a firearm. The sentence will be served concurrently.

Luther police responded on Dec. 8, 2021, to a call of a threatened suicide and pointing a gun at the reporting party, his estranged wife, at their north Harrah residence.

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The three-hour sentencing proceeding on Dec. 1, 2022, included victim impact statements from Luther police officers and others. In a show of law enforcement solidarity, dozens of Oklahoma County Sheriff deputies and police officers sat in the courtroom. One Luther police reservist who was shot at told the judge, “”we simply responded because we were asked to help, and we were repaid with bullets.” His wife, also a reservist, told the judge, “the entire time, I kept thinking ‘we have to go home, I didn’t say good-bye to our nine-year-old.'”

Luther Police Captain Chris Fetters told the judge: “Bryant Leon Hodges tried to murder me, all because I’m a peace officer.

“After trying to establish contact with Hodges failed, he decided to shoot at me and other law enforcement. The first shot missed an Oklahoma County Detective by a few feet, and the next round struck my patrol unit’s windshield, missing my face by less than six inches.  

“Hodges is going to use all kinds of defenses and excuses for his actions that day, but not one time has he apologized or showed any remorse. After the shooting Hodges called his (juvenile) son from the Oklahoma County Detention Center, telling him where he hid the gun and to have him hide it from law enforcement. In the jail, Hodges discussed with family members about using a mental health defense to get a lighter sentence. Even after the last hearing on October 5, Hodges was on the phone with his sister and she relays to him how ‘all the fucking Luther cops were there today at court’ and we’re all ‘fucking pieces of shit.’ That alone shows his family blames us for his actions, not him.”

The standoff lasted four hours and ended peacefully without any gun shots from law enforcement. Involved were the involved the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office tactical team, negotiators, and a mental health coordinator. After Hodges’ surrender, law enforcement found two large moonshine stills and a marijuana grow operation, according to OCSO.

As the sentencing began, Judge Palumbo acknowledged the case was emotionally contentious and warned against any outbursts, gestures or reactions, emphasizing her strict rule against having phones in the courtroom, and her ability to charge anyone with contempt of court.

The judge meant it when a member of the district attorney’s office reported a family member was using a smartphone. It turned out to be Hodges’ wife, Melissa McKay, who originally called 911 that day, and has since filed for divorce. She was escorted out of the courtroom after her phone was confiscated. She later returned to the courtroom in handcuffs to testify for the defense.

McKay testified that her husband had been her best friend until about five years ago after being together for 24 years. She described financial struggles that includes bankruptcy, loss of family members, addiction, and mental health issues. Tearfully, she said he had called her at work that day, suicidal, and when she got there he put a gun to her head. She was able to leave and called police because, “I wanted them to come help.”

Hodges’ other sister testified that her brother had been exposed to years of childhood violence and sexual trauma, suffered from substance abuse addiction and that she had taken him to many mental health appointments over the years. “He has said to me he is sorry. I still love him. This has torn our family apart. He’s a good guy and we miss him.”

The state presented evidence regarding Hodges’ phonecalls with another family member that included an alleged ploy to smuggle narcotic-laced paperwork into the jail.

The prosecutor told the judge that Hodges didn’t expect the state to listen to those calls and it backfired big time. She said that indeed Hodges has many struggles but was using depression, and a bad childhood as an excuse to shoot at law enforcement. “It’s by the grace of God that he wasn’t a good shot and we didn’t have more funerals for law enforcement.”

The judge said she carefully studied the Pre-Sentencing Investigation and said the evidence was astounding and overwhelming that Hodges wanted “suicide by cop,” that day. Judge Palumbo said, “I don’t think you’re not a great shot,” responding to his defense attorney’s assertions that Hodges was skilled at shooting and didn’t intend to hit law enforcement. The judge said bullets came within inches of officers and he could have literally stolen children’s parents by his actions.

After sentencing, Hodges was taken back to the jail, and a contempt hearing began for McKay.

She told the judge she did not record anything and was only fidgeting with her phone because she was nervous about testifying. However, when the judge asked a deputy to review the phone, it was discovered that McKay had been recording video, and sent disparaging comments and video via text about the judge.

The judge initially sentenced her to 48 hours in jail on the contempt charge. In tears, McKay told the judge she could not miss more work or would lose her home. Ultimately, she was ordered to eight hours of community service.

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