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“The system is trash.” Woman shot dead by cop she threatened with shovel had mental health issues, mother says

LAKELAND, Florida – The woman fatally shot by a Polk County Sheriff’s Office patrol sergeant as she advanced at the sergeant with a shovel, was 24-year-old Jessiram Hweih Rivera of Winter Haven. Rivera had an extensive criminal history, including violent Visit Original Source…

LAKELAND, Florida – The woman fatally shot by a Polk County Sheriff’s Office patrol sergeant as she advanced at the sergeant with a shovel, was 24-year-old Jessiram Hweih Rivera of Winter Haven.

Rivera had an extensive criminal history, including violent felonies, and including a previous battery on a law enforcement officer. Hweih’s mother says her daughter had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and didn’t deserve to be killed.

According to PCSO: [On] Thursday afternoon, November 11, 2021, at 3:45 p.m. in Wahneta, in unincorporated Polk County, in which 24-year-old Jessiram Hweih Rivera of Winter Haven attacked a deputy (sergeant) with a shovel.

Deputies were called to the area regarding a suspicious woman who was walking in and out of moving traffic on Rifle Range Road near Noles Lane in Wahneta.

Patrol Sergeant Sean Speakman, 46, arrived in the area at approximately 3:26 p.m. He located Rivera just south of Redemption Baptist Church on the west side of Rifle Range Road and attempted to speak with her. She was in an obvious state of agitation and she was holding a shovel. As Sergeant Speakman was talking with the woman on a private dirt driveway, she raised the shovel, pointing it towards the Sergeant and began advancing towards him.

The Sergeant gave her verbal commands to stop and put the shovel down multiple times and began backing away. She did not put the shovel down, and continued to advance towards the Sergeant, threatening him with the shovel. The Sergeant fired four shots, striking the woman.

Sergeant Speakman radioed that shots had been fired and began life-saving measures, including CPR, and continued until Polk County Fire Rescue arrived. Polk County Fire/EMS took over life-saving efforts. Rivera was transported to a local hospital, where she was declared deceased.


Jessica Rivera Hweih, Jessiram Hweih Rivera’s mother told WFLA, “We’ve been standing behind her to help her but most of the time the system failed. The system is trash.”

“[…] She’s been struggling and fighting with her demons and she wanted to be good so bad,” said Hweih. “The day before yesterday, one sheriff called me and he recognized her name and he said, ‘I’m looking for her, give me her cell phone. I’m gonna look for her and help her’ and the next day another sheriff shot her four times on her chest.”

“He’s supposed to help her, not kill her because she had a shovel. There were so many ways to address that,” she continued.

Rivera’s criminal history includes:

12/19/2013; Osceola County SO; Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon (F)
11/03/2016; Osceola County SO; Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon (F)
12/04/2017; Kissimmee PD; Battery on Law Enforcement Officer (F) Guilty/Convicted
12/04/2017; Kissimmee PD; Criminal Mischief (M)
12/04/2017; Kissimmee PD; Resisting with Violence (F)
02/25/2018; Orange County SO; Possession of Cocaine (F) Guilty/Convicted
9/11/2018; Columbus PD (Nebraska); Fugitive From Justice
09/27/2018; Osceola County SO; VOP
11/02/2018; Osceola County SO; Warrant Arrest Other Jurisdiction
11/7/2018; Orange County SO; Failure to Appear in Court (F)
11/7/2018; Orange County SO; Conditional Release Violation
4/16/2019; WHPD; Warrant Arrest Other Jurisdiction (F)
4/18/2019; Orange County SO; Violation of Probation/Parole (F)
5/26/2020; PCSO; Possession of Methamphetamine (F)
5/26/2020; PCSO; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M)
11/3/2020; PCSO; Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon (F)

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Sergeant Sean Speakman, 46, was hired by the PCSO in 1998 and began working in Information Technologies. He entered the training academy and became a deputy Sheriff in 2005. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2018. He is a patrol sergeant working in the Southeast District.

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