Deputy Christopher Lester: Deputy shot by Andrew Coffee Jr. opens up following sentencing

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - Andrew Coffee Jr. will spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting Indian River County Deputy Christopher Lester in 2015.

A judge handed down the sentence Thursday afternoon, but not without hearing numerous outbursts from Coffee Jr. throughout the hearing, including profanity directed at the state prosecutor.

Chief Asst. State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl described Coffee Jr. as a career criminal, a menace to society and dangerous.

Lester also took the stand before the sentencing to tell a judge he also wanted the life sentence for Coffee Jr. Lester, too, was met with outbursts from Coffee Jr.

Following the hearing, Lester opened up for the first time since the 2015 shooting.

“I’m just glad it’s over. That feeling of knowing he can’t hurt anybody else,” Lester said.

Dash camera footage captured the early-morning confrontation between Lester and Coffee Jr. which was a key piece of evidence in the case.

“It creeps into my head sometimes. I think about it at night sometimes,” Lester said.

The rookie deputy pulled Coffee Jr. over for not having proper tags on his scooter.

Shortly thereafter, Coffee Jr. was seen punching the deputy in the face, and pulling a gun out of his waist band before shooting Lester.

“I caught myself in a too relaxed position,” said Lester.

Lester fired back, preventing Coffee Jr. from escaping.

“Unfortunately it had to be me that night. But Im glad it was me and not somebody else because maybe we’d be having a different conversation,” said Lester.

Lester recovered quickly, and returned to work in just four months.

On Thursday, he gave the credit for his survival to his training, and especially his wife.

“We were engaged about 10 days prior to the shooting,” Lester said. “It was fresh on my mind at the time of the shooting, I was like look I can’t … I just promised my life to this woman, I can’t be taken away from her at this time.”

Seeing Coffee Jr. sentenced Thursday was a big step forward for both of them toward permanently putting this behind them.

Lester is now married, a detective and still making arrests and patrolling the streets.

“Im a little more aware of my surroundings or a little more vigilant,” said Lester.

He’s also still supported by his wife, wanting him to keep doing the job he loves.

“He loves it so much and is so happy to do what he does that I don’t have the heart to tell him not to,” Lester's wife said.

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