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April 14, 2012 — St. Augustine

Andrea Sheldon, a 46-year-old hospice nurse, and her husband, Rick, got into an argument at their rural home.

Rick Sheldon drove away from the house and into the woods and called a friend, saying that his wife was upset and he wouldn't be in to work the next day. The friend phoned authorities. Deputies also were told that Rick might be armed. Deputies approached the couple's home in the darkness, one wearing night-vision glasses, all armed, flashlights off.

One deputy said that he saw a gun inside and they scrambled to take cover. Deputies said that's when Andrea Sheldon emerged with a shotgun, walked to the front of the porch and aimed at a deputy. Read more

Sgt. Glenn Lappe and Deputies Scott Aurbon Stokes, Thomas Cameron Coward and Michael Richard Williams fired, striking Sheldon six times and killing her. An autopsy showed she had taken hydrocodone, used to treat medium to severe pain, and her blood alcohol content was 0.143.

The shooting was ruled justified, although Sheldon's family and friends could not believe that she would aim a shotgun at police.

Sheldon has filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff's office and the deputies.

This was the 38th police shooting in Florida in 2012.

One day earlier, one officer shot one person in Gainesville .

Six days later, one officer shot one person in Pensacola .

7 ways this case compares to others

  1. Deputy Coward was involved in one other shooting from 2009 to 2014. Eighty-five officers were involved in more than one shooting during that time period.
  2. Sheldon was among the 7 percent of people who appeared to be on drugs before being shot.
  3. Sheldon was shot after friends, family, or others called the police to ask for help in getting Sheldon emergency mental health services. That’s a factor in 6 percent of cases.
  4. Officers shot 25 bullets. The average was eight.
  5. Sheldon was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
  6. Sheldon was drinking alcohol before being shot. That’s true in about 10 percent of police shootings.
  7. Sheldon pointed a weapon at officers. Twenty-eight percent of shootings involved people who police say pointed a weapon at them.

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