Will Andrew “A.J.” Coffee IV still face prison time after his acquittal ? Five things to know

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Nearly five years after a deadly shootout with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office at his Gifford home, Andrew Coffee IV convinced a jury that he wasn't at fault for the chaos and the death of his girlfriend in its wake.

But Friday's decision isn't the end of his legal matters, nor does it end the dispute about the issues with the raid.

Here's what led to Friday's verdict, and what more could come from the case surrounding the death of 21-year-old Alteria Woods.

More: Gifford man testified Thursday he fired in self-defense during 2017 fatal raid that killed Alteria Woods

1. How did the shootout happen?

On March 19, 2017, a Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactical team went to Coffee's home in the 4500 block of 35th Avenue with a search warrant. Several family members, along with Coffee's girlfriend, Alteria Woods, were inside the home.

Coffee IV told the court he was asleep at the time the SWAT team arrived. He woke up and thought he was being robbed. Coffee said he saw what appeared to be a rifle sticking through an open bedroom window pointed at him. That's when he fired a .45-caliber pistol out of the window, shooting two or three times.

The SWAT team returned fire, striking and killing Woods in the process.

More: Gifford man seeks self-defense immunity in 2017 SWAT drug raid that left 21-year-old woman dead

2. Who was Alteria Woods?

Woods’ family said Alteria Woods was an honor student, had attended Indian River State College and worked as a pharmacy technician at a Publix store in the Ryanwood Plaza on 58th Avenue west of Vero Beach. She was studying to become a pharmacist.

Community members organized a "Justice 4 Alteria Woods" march following her death.

Following Friday's verdict, Mary Sherris, an attorney representing Woods' family, issued a statement and said they were satisfied with the jury's conclusion.

“The Woods family never blamed Andrew 'A.J.' Coffee IV for the death of their daughter, Alteria Woods," Sherris said. "They are happy with the jury’s verdict and that justice prevailed today.”

Andrew "A.J." Coffee IV, seated with his defense lawyers Julia Graves (left) and Adam Chrzan Nov. 19, 2021, reacts to a jury verdict acquitting him of second-degree felony murder and other felony charges during his trial at the Indian River County Courthouse. The charges related to a March 19, 2017 fire fight between a Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactical team and Coffee IV at his Gifford home that left his girlfriend Alteria Woods dead from shots fired by deputies.

3. Why did the jury choose to acquit Coffee on the most serious charges?

The jury said Coffee, 27, was not guilty of second-degree felony murder for Woods' death, three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer by discharging a firearm, and one count of shooting or throwing a deadly missile.

"We argued successfully, clearly, that there was some overreaction and overreach by the sheriff's department on that raid," Coffee's attorney, Adam Chrzan, said. “They should have pulled back, they didn't. And this is what happens when you go into a volatile situation without all the information.”

The verdict: Jury acquits Gifford man who claimed self-defense after girlfriend killed by sheriff's SWAT team in 2017 raid

4. Why is Andrew Coffee IV still facing prison time?

In a separate proceeding Friday, the jury convicted Coffee of one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. According to the Department of Corrections, Coffee was convicted of fleeing law enforcement in St. Lucie County in a 2010 incident, then battery on a law enforcement officer the following year.

At his sentencing Jan. 13, he faces a maximum prison term of 30 years.

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5. Will the Sheriff's Office have to answer for the raid?

A grand jury in July 2017 cleared SWAT team members of any criminal charges and a Sheriff's Office internal investigation cleared them of any violations of policies and procedures.

Earlier this year, Woods’ mother, Yolanda Woods, filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the Sheriff’s office and deputies involved in the raid. That lawsuit was put on hold pending the outcome of the trial.

Others inside the house the night of the raid have also filed federal lawsuits against sheriff’s officials.

Lamaur Stancil is the Treasure Coast regional economy reporter covering business and industries, including retail, tourism and hospitality. Contact him at 321-987-7179 or lamaur.stancil@tcpalm.com and follow him at Lamaur Stancil on Facebook and @TCPalmLStancil on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Five things about the acquittal of Andrew Coffee IV: What you need to know