A dash-cam video has been released by Florida’s Indian River County’s Sheriff’s Department that shows exactly why police officers have to be on their guard at all times and treat every suspect, no matter what their race, as a possible threat.
Every police officer knows that any traffic stop can flip from, just another boring day on the job, to a dangerous situation that they might not return home from. This transition can happen in a matter of mere seconds.
An officer cannot know who has hidden weapons, who has every intention to cause harm to others, or who is even considering whether or not to become a danger to others.
That is exactly what happened to Indian River County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Lester when he pulled over Andrew Coffee, 52.
The traffic stop occurred when Lester noticed that Coffee did not have a tag on his scooter. In the video, Lester can be heard telling the suspect not to reach into his pockets, and put his hands on the hood of the police cruiser.
Coffee seemed to comply, but then turned back to the officer and asked, “What’s the problem.”
Lester insisted that Coffee put his hands on the hood, and that’s when the suspect punched the police officer in the face. Coffee then reached into his waistband, pulled out a gun, and ran over to where the officer fell off-screen.
Though the actual shooting cannot be seen from the dash-cam footage, the Sheriff’s Department has said that Coffee stood over Lester and fired down at the officer.
The policeman was able to fire back, and allegedly struck Coffee twice. The suspect is then seen limping across the road as he tries to flee the scene. Police were able to apprehend Coffee when a K-9 unit found him hiding behind a stack of crates at a nearby fruit packaging company.
Deputy Lester is recovering at the Indian River Medical Center and is described as being in good condition, while Coffee is undergoing surgery at Lawnwood Medical Center, and is described as being in stable condition.
Channel 5 West Palm Beach TV reports that Coffee was released from prison last year after serving a 21 year prison sentence for first degree murder. He has a long rap sheet that includes aggravated assault, possession of cocaine, battery, sale of cocaine, and first degree murder with a firearm.
Though it is unclear how Coffee, a convicted felon, obtained a firearm, it further demonstrates how gun laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining them.
The entire scene on the dash-cam video took less than one minute to play out, and shows how a simple traffic stop can turn into potential murder scene in the blink of an eye.