GIFFORD, Fla. — An Indian River County man on trial in connection with a deadly 2017 SWAT raid in Gifford was found not guilty of five of the six charges Friday.
Andrew Coffee IV was charged with second-degree murder of his 21-year-old girlfriend, Alteria Woods, and three counts of attempted murder of law enforcement after the raid led to an exchange of gunfire.
He was also acquitted of shooting or throwing a deadly missile.
“I’m glad that he was found not guilty because I knew he loved Alteria,” said Alteria’s mother, Yolanda Woods.
The Indian River County Sheriff's Office claimed Coffee IV fired shots first at deputies during an early-morning search warrant for narcotics at a Gifford home four years ago.
According to an arrest affidavit, SWAT team members returned fire into the bedroom. However, Coffee IV claimed deputies fired first.
Fearing for his life, Coffee IV told investigators that he fired two or three rounds. The sheriff's office maintained it announced its presence.
Coffee IV told investigators that he didn't know it was deputies because they did not announce who they were.
His girlfriend, Alteria Woods, who was also at the home, was shot 10 times and died during the gunfire.
“She was laying in bed and they shot her ten times,” Woods cried.
She also claims initial reports that Coffee IV used Woods as a shield from the bullets were not true. She also said reports that Woods was pregnant at the time were also not true.
A grand jury previously exonerated the officer and deputies who fired their weapons during the incident. However, a jury on Friday found Coffee IV guilty of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon.
Woods said that she still wants to see law enforcement held accountable for her daughter’s death, which is why she says she is suing the sheriff’s office in civil court.
“They killed her and they go on with life,” Woods said. “When I used to go to the grave all the time I promised her that I was going to be her voice."
In a statement, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said:
It’s disappointing that this jury did not see that the tragic death of Alteria Woods occurred as a direct results of the actions of Andrew Coffee IV. Our deputies were there as a result of drug complaints and sales and took fire from Coffee upon which they had no choice but to protect themselves and others. Our hearts go out to the Woods family as they still suffer from the loss of their daughter, but we stand by our statement that she would still be here had Coffee simply complied with law enforcement.
Woods said as she waits for some form of justice, she keeps focused on making something good come out of her darkest days.
Friday after the trial, she went to her local church to set up a Thanksgiving food drive for the weekend in honor of Alteria.
This is the second year she’s hosted the food drive in her daughter’s memory. “This is a mission for me. Alteria was a giver, so what better way to give back than to do what we’re doing?” Woods said.
The Thanksgiving drive is taking place Saturday, Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Church of God by Faith in Wabasso.