WEST SACRAMENTO – When a West Sacramento police officer shot an unarmed man in July 2012, the officer said he fired his weapon during a life or death struggle, his gun being wrestled away from him by an aggressive suspect.
The unarmed suspect was Kevin Hughey, a Sacramento attorney who barely survived the gunshot that left a bullet lodged next to his spine.
Directly after the shooting, the department's narrative matched the statement provided by Officer Christopher Wright, that Hughey had attacked Wright and tried to gain control of his weapon.
But that's a much different story than the one told by Hughey and his wife Jessica, who was nearly struck by the bullet that hit her husband.
According to Hughey, he had been involved in an argument with his wife, but things were settling down when they heard loud banging on the door.
"Just thundering bangs on the door," said Hughey. "Clearly it was not a knock. She and I were looking at each other like 'what the heck is going on here?'"
Jessica got up to answer the door, according to both Hugheys, but her husband stopped her and went to the door himself.
"I reached over and started to undo the dead bolt, and as soon as I undid the dead bolt, the lower lock shattered and the door flung open," Hughey said. "I took a couple of steps back, and as soon as the door flung open, I saw a police officer with his gun drawn."
According to the Hugheys, Wright fired his gun almost instantly.
Kevin Hughey said Wright was halfway through the sentence, "show me your f****** hands" when the gun went off. Hughey said he was several feet inside of his apartment when he was shot.
"I remember something hitting my abdomen and the force of it was significant," Hughey said. "I looked down and I think I took another step or two back, and blood was oozing from my abdomen."
Jessica Hughey, who was pregnant and several days past her due date at the time, says she was almost struck by the bullet as she stood near the entrance of their home.
"I felt the bullet fly past me and I could smell gun powder," she said.
Jessica said Wright kept saying that Kevin had gone for his gun.
"He kept yelling, 'he was reaching for the gun, he was reaching for the gun!'" she said. "You could hear the panic in his voice and the terror."
Hughey was transported to UC Davis Medical Center, where he nearly died. When Hughey recovered from surgery, he found himself shackled to his bed, his family not allowed to visit.
Jessica Hughey gave birth to their son several days later. Her husband, still chained to his bed, missed the birth of his child.
"We were supposed to meet our baby together and that was ripped from us," Jessica said.
But that version of events is drastically different from Wright's version, where an aggressive Hughey charged him and tried to grab his weapon. Although Wright never returned calls asking him to comment, News10 obtained the summary of his sworn statement given to West Sacramento Detective Ken Fellows after the shooting.
Wright says he responded to the Hugheys' home with his partner, Officer Markus. According to his statement, Wright directed Markus to wait by the garage to the rear of the residence in case anyone came out, while Wright approached the front door on the other side of the building.
Wright says he heard a female screaming for help while a male yelled obscenities.
"F*** you, F*** you, b****," Wright says he heard through the door.
"Wright started banging on the front door while yelling, 'police, police, open the door!'" Fellows' report says.
According to Wright's version of events, he started kicking the door, trying to make entry because he feared for the safety of the female inside. At some point while Wright was kicking the door, he says Hughey opened it from the inside and immediately confronted him.
Wright stated that Kevin says, "You mother f*****," prior to rushing him, the statement reads. "At that point, Wright believed Hughey killed Jessica or that something was wrong with her and thought Kevin was now coming after him."
Wright told Fellows he was unable to create distance from Hughey, saying "he was on me too quick." He says the struggle took them outside of the home, several feet onto the walkway outside.
Wright says he pulled his gun from its holster, but Hughey immediately grabbed it.
"Wright began to struggle against Kevin for the gun," according to Fellows' summary of Wright's statement. "Wright stated that as he tried to pull the gun away from Kevin, the gun goes off. Wright stated that Kevin backs up and tries to get into the house and that Kevin stumbles in."
The Hugheys" version of events and Wright's differ in substantial ways.
The first discrepancy between the stories is that Jessica Hughey was calling for help when police arrive.
Jessica claims she was not calling for help, but was sitting in a chair when she heard Wright kicking the door.
In statements made by several neighbors to police investigators, none of them reported hearing Jessica cry for help. In fact, Wright's partner, Markus, does not report hearing Jessica crying for help, despite standing next to their open garage door.
When Wright and Markus first arrived at the scene, they spoke with a security guard from the complex. The guard told the officers he had just made contact with the Hugheys to inform them their garage door was open, but never reported hearing any screaming from inside the home.
Another point of contention is whether Hughey opened the door or Wright kicked it in. News10 obtained the report from a West Sacramento crime scene investigator, which supports Hughey's statement that Wright kicked the door in.
"The front door of the residence was opened and showed signs of forced entry," the CSI report says. "The lock plate was broken and a large crack split the surrounding wood. A corresponding partial boot mark was on the exterior of the door near the dead bolt area and door handle. The boot impression was believed to have been left by Officer Wright."
Next, Wright says he saw Jessica Hughey lying motionless on the ground when the door opened. The Hugheys say Jessica was standing next to the door when Wright kicked it in, which is how she was almost shot.
A sworn statement made by Markus, who was at the front door right after Wright fired his weapon, appears to contradict Wright's account.
"I observed a white male adult lying on his back just inside the front door ... I observed a pregnant white female standing in the living room of [the home] to the left of the door," reads Markus' statement.
Perhaps the most important part of the story is what happened when Wright and Hughey stood face to face in the doorway. Hughey says Wright fired his weapon almost immediately, not even making it through the statement "show me your f****** hands."
Wright says Hughey said, "You mother f*****" and charged him, trying to pry the gun from his hands. Wright said Hughey was several feet outside of the home when the gun went off, not several feet inside the home like Hughey said.
Gunshot residue analysis performed by the Los Angeles County's forensic laboratory says no gunshot residue was found on either of Hughey's hands, despite Wright's assertion that both of Hughey's hands were on the gun when it fired.
A West Sacramento police report says none of Hughey's prints were found on the gun.
The West Sacramento CSI report says blood was found almost seven feet inside the home, but no blood was found outside.
The incident reports obtained by News10 also include interviews with neighbors on all sides of Hughey's home. They indicate the gunshot occurred right after the loud pounding on the door. No one reported seeing any struggle between Wright and Hughey.
The West Sacramento Police Department will not comment on the story because of a pending civil suit, but a letter sent from the department to Hughey's attorney said the internal affairs investigation supported excessive force allegations against Wright.
Wright, who was still on his probation at the time, was let go from the department in April 2013.
The department would not say if Wright was fired because of the shooting.