Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel Appeals His Dismissal
Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel Appeals His Dismissal
Mary Knowlton. Source WVSN
21 Abril, 2017, 20:12
Newly released surveillance footage shows the moment former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel shot and killed 73-year-old retired librarian Mary Knowlton in August during a "shoot-don't shoot" training exercise at a citizens police academy.
The video shows the shooting went shockingly awry when the officer shot and killed a 73-year-old former librarian with what police said was real ammunition used by mistake at an event created to bring police and the public together. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement report states that most of the class thought it was all part of the exercise.
Coel and other officers run to Knowlton as they realize she had been shot with real bullets, and call 911 for medical aid.
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Her husband, Gary Knowlton, recalled the tragic moment.
"He turned her over and she looked frightful, blood all over the place, and I thought, 'Oh my God, '" Knowlton said.
When Gary finally got to the correct hospital, he learned that Mary had died in the ambulance without him by her side. Blood all over the place, and I thought, Oh my God. "There was maybe 5 people who were trying to save her". In the video, he can be seen firing his personal gun at Knowlton as she drops to the ground.
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The video shows Coel, pretending to be a criminal in a hoodie and mask, being approached by Knowlton as a group of citizens stand nearby. However, he was terminated from the police department.
Coel, a native of Cooper City, Florida, played football at Simpson College in Iowa and served as a police officer in Miramar before joining the Punta Gorda force.
Punta Gorda police officer Lee Coel, left, and Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis.
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Coel, who is facing up to 30 years in prison, has since pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter. He remains on paid administrative leave.
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