Former GRPD officer takes stand in own defense in CSC case

Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-28 18:16:52-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In an unexpected move, former Grand Rapids Police Officer Ryan Bruggink testified in his own criminal sexual conduct and home invasion trial Monday.

Bruggink took the stand after a brief mid-morning recess. His testimony comes just days after his accuser, a Wyoming mother of three, got a chance to tell the court her story.

The accusations, which stem from a supposed incident from Nov. 24, 2014, allege that Bruggink came to the woman’s home unwanted, forced his way in and sexually assaulted her before leaving. Both have admitted they shared a brief and mostly physical relationship after meeting online months earlier.

Today, Bruggink said coming over uninvited was a typical practice for the two.

“Yes – we’ve done that before,” he told jurors. “Either she’d be sleeping or hanging out or doing something else and she’d say ‘no’ at that time. Then later I’d just end up coming over and she would let me inside just like any other time we’ve hung out.”

He also painted a much more intimate picture of the relationship, describing it more of a “boyfriend/girlfriend” arrangement versus the purely physical fling his accuser had previously described in her testimony.

“We just called each other boyfriend and girlfriend,” Bruggink said on the stand. “We liked each other, we weren’t going to see anybody else.”

But two months before the alleged incident, Bruggink did begin seeing someone else. That led to the end of communication between him and his eventual accuser, until shortly before and on the day of the supposed assault.

Through Bruggink’s testimony today, the jury learned he and his alleged victim had discussed meeting up that night – an idea that was originally shot down by the accuser. Bruggink drank that day, and into the night before driving himself over to the Wyoming home and calling the alleged victim.

“She answered the phone,” Bruggink said. “I told her that her door was locked and she said that she was sleeping and I said ‘come and let me in.’”

Testimony alleges Bruggink became combative and attempted to break down the door. Tuesday, he assured the court that was not the case.

“She opened the door just like every time she opened the door for me and I proceeded in – like every other occasion,” he said.

Bruggink went on to say that after being led into the home, he smelled the strong odor of marijuana before finding it in the Wyoming mother’s room inside a bag with other drug paraphernalia.

“A grinder, some paraphernalia, some residue and pieces of marijuana inside,” he told the jury. “I didn’t want her smoking that with her kids in her house. Because they’re quite young.”

Bruggink claimed that after a brief confrontation about that, both went to bed – the alleged victim in her room and Bruggink on the couch. He said he later got up, went to her room, and the two began engaging in what Bruggink called consensual intercourse. After moving into the living room, Bruggink said the two didn’t do anything atypical until the end. That’s when his accuser got upset, asked him to leave, and according to Bruggink, he did.

Bruggink is believed to be the last piece of testimony in the trial, and proceedings will resume Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. He's charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and home invasion and faces up to life in prison if convicted.