NewsTreasure CoastRegion Indian River County


Alteria Woods: Family of woman killed by Indian River County deputies demand more answers at meeting

Posted at 12:11 AM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 00:11:22-04

GIFFORD, Fla. -- It has been exactly three months since Alteria Woods was accidentally shot by Indian River County SWAT team members.

Monday, her family members demanded more information and answers surrounding the final seconds of her life on March 19.

That brought them to the monthly C.O.P.E meeting, where the community can discuss issues face to face with law enforcement.

“We don’t feel like right now we’re getting justice,” said Woods’ Uncle, John Clayton.

The meeting is not a typical place to get answers, but rather, to discuss issues openly.

Clayton was hoping, regardless, to learn something new.

He was among the family and community members that brought two specific issues up for discussion concerning Woods, including body cameras and the employment status of the deputies involved in the shooting.

Sheriff James Harpring reminded them that their fight for body cameras is going to be a long one.

“They are not currently proposed for the 2017-2018 budget,” Harpring said. “It’s inevitable, but I just don’t know when that will be.”

It was upsetting to Clayton. “We would have known what really went on. We still do not have any evidence,” Clayton said.

All Clayton has is an explanation from detectives, stating she was shot accidentally during a SWAT raid. Deputies said they approached a suspected drug home, and someone started shooting at law enforcement.

They returned fire, but say one of the residents, Andrew Coffee IV, used Woods as a shield from their bullets.

Two Indian River County deputies and an officer for the Indian River Shores Police Department were put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

But all three were allowed back to work less than two weeks after the shooting.

The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office confirms that the deputies are still subjects of a standard criminal investigation, and that a grand jury will have to clear the SWAT members of any potential criminal charges.
That could still be a month away,

“I think they should have been suspended, or on paid leave until [the investigation] was over. They’re back on the force already. We’re seeing them. They ride by my house,” Clayton said.

Those two topics dominated Monday’s meeting.

But other items were brought to the table to set a positive tone of helping Gifford build a better relationship with law enforcement, including ideas for creating summer jobs, and bringing a police citizen’s academy to Gifford.

Woods’ family now waiting for their next opportunity to demand more information from law enforcement.

They have also created an online petition for an outside investigator to look into the shooting.