Andrew Coffee Jr. found guilty of attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer

VERO BEACH, Fla. - UPDATE: It took just over an hour for a jury Wednesday to find Andrew Coffee Jr. guilty of the premeditated  attempted murder of an Indian River County Sheriff’s deputy.

Coffee had been pulled over by Deputy Christopher Lester in Gifford back in December of 2015 because there was no tag on Coffee’s scooter.

Dashcam video from the deputy's cruiser showed Coffee punch Lester, then reach for a gun.

New surveillance video the jury saw today showed how the men were just a few feet apart when they exchanged gunfire.

Coffee was struck in the hip, Deputy Lester in the foot.

The sheriff said his deputy is relieved to put this behind him.

“Obviously his testimony was very trying on him.  He did a fantastic job for a young deputy.  Proud of the progress he’s made after the shooting,” said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar. 

Sentencing is set for November 9.

Coffee will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.

EARLIER STORY:

A homeless man said he was only a feet away when he saw Indian River County Deputy Christopher Lester pull over Andrew Coffee Jr. the night of Dec. 18, 2015.

As Lester called in the traffic stop, the homeless man, Robert Lombardi, was sleeping on 45th Street.

“And when I looked up, I had seen the flashing lights from a police car," said Lombardi Tuesday afternoon in court.

Lombardi first thought he was going to be told to move, but that wasn’t the case.  Instead, he watched as the two men engaged for a bit.

Then Lombardi said the demeanor of the man on the scooter, Andrew Coffee Jr., changed dramatically after the deputy said he just wanted to check him out to make sure he had nothing illegal on him.

"He punched the officer in the face with his right hand, knocked glasses off.  Officer dropped flashlight, stumbled back and as he followed through with punch, reached back and a gun came out and he started walking toward officer with the gun," testified Lombardi.

Lombardi said the other man fired at least once when the deputy was running away.

“How neither one of them got killed is a miracle,” said Lombardi.

One of the first arriving deputies after the shooting also took the stand Tuesday, testifying that the bullet that hit Lester, was located in the deputy’s sock.

Lester is expected to take the stand Wednesday.  The trial is expected to wrap-up either Wednesday or Thursday.

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