WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - The parents of a teenager killed during a police standoff in December 2010 in Elmore County speak out for the first time, exclusively to WSFA 12 News. They said they have serious questions about how authorities handled the situation.
The Elmore County Sheriff said Hayley Wingard was held hostage, shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend - Derrick Bean. Bean was shot and killed by Sheriff's deputies.
Wingard's family members said Derrick Bean broke into the house and found guns and held Wingard and her cousin Christian Cox hostage. Haley's stepfather Phillip Reeves was also in the home at the time.
"He stopped both them and took both of them to the bedroom, had tied her up, and held 'em hostage the whole time and I came in and didn't think anything was going on," Reeves said.
Bean eventually let Christian go, but told her say not to say anything. Eventually she was able to get help from her uncle and neighbors.
"I just got too scared and it just came to that I had to tell him before anything else happened," Cox said.
Meanwhile, Haley's mother, Teresa Reeves rushed home from a Birmingham business trip. Before she could make it to the house, Hayley was dead.
"I'm honestly able to tell you I don't think I'll be able to handle Hayley's death right, but I can tell you that it would be easier not having all these other factors knowing that in our hearts, it could have been handled different," Reeves said.
Wingard's parents spoke to WSFA 12 News from the same home that was heavily damaged during the standoff. Sheriff Bill Franklin said he could not comment on this story because of pending legal claim against his office.
In December, Franklin outlined the department's version of what happened.
After hours of negotiations, things went quiet and officers felt as though they had no other choice but to go into the house.
Franklin said Bean was pointing his 12-gauge shotgun at Hayley's head, the lead officer of the Special Operations Team ordered bean to show his hands. According to Franklin, Bean never did.
"It was almost simultaneous, that's what my understanding is, everybody heard the rounds went off, it was like bang, bang, bang, bang," Franklin said during a news conference in December.
Haley's family said they've obtained a video that tells a different story. They said there's an initial bang used when a land grenade is thrown to break into the house. It's quickly followed by what the family said is Bean's shotgun blast. Another loud bang then follows, and after several seconds, multiple gunshots are heard.
The family feels the special operations unit treated the situation like a drug bust, and not a hostage situation.
"I have never at the police as an enemy," said Reeves, who has served in the Alabama National Guard. "I've always looked at them as a cohort, not the same, but as a fellow uniformed person who puts their lives on the line. I've never been a police hunter, not a witch hunter out of grief, I just want the truth to be told."
Franklin said the special ops team has had been deployed more than 200 times, but this is the first operation that has ended in a death. He has expressed regret about how the situation ended. The family said it has filed a notice of claim in the case to get more information about what happened, but not a lawsuit. The case remains under investigation.