Panthers guard Bridges found guilty of assault by pointing a gun

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers guard Jeremy Bridges was found guilty Tuesday of pointing a gun at a woman in a parking lot.

Bridges was given a 60-day suspended jail sentence, meaning he won't spend time in jail, and a year of unsupervised probation. He was ordered to surrender his gun and complete 60 hours of community service, and was fined $500 by a Mecklenburg County District Court judge.

"It was kind of shocking," Bridges said after the court hearing. "I know I'm not guilty in the whole situation."

His attorneys said they will appeal the verdict.

Bridges was arrested July 26 -- one day before players reported to training camp. Authorities charged him with a misdemeanor assault after a woman accused Bridges of pointing a gun at her in the parking lot of a strip club early that morning. Bridges insisted he never pointed the gun at the woman.

The Panthers suspended Bridges for the first two regular season games for conduct detrimental to the team. He rejoined the lineup in Week 3 but could face additional penalties from the league.

"At the league level, personal conduct policy also applies, and we have been informed that the NFL will review this matter," Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney said.

During the court hearing, Chevella Coleman, an entertainer at a Charlotte strip club, testified that she got into an altercation outside the club with Bridges' friend, Darrell Bennett. Bridges, who wasn't in the club that night, said he retrieved a gun from an SUV to prevent the tension from escalating.

Both sides agreed Bridges intervened.

Bridges testified that he held the gun behind his back and never pointed it at anyone. He said he was simply trying to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation.

Former Panther wide receiver Taye Biddle, who now plays for Tampa Bay, was present during the altercation and testified on behalf of Bridges.

Coleman, Coleman's former girlfriend and Coleman's uncle, Michael Fowler, testified that Bridges cocked a silver pistol and pointed it in the direction of Coleman and members of her group before Bridges and two of his friends left the parking lot.

"Her people, everything they said was backward and chopped up and twisted. Everyone was inconsistent in what they said," Bridges said after the hearing.

Coleman refused to speak with reporters after the ruling.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.

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