Society

Florida Cop Accidentally Shot, Killed Retired Librarian (Video)

| by Michael Allen

A newly-released video (below) shows former Punta Gorda, Florida, Police Officer Lee Coel accidentally shooting and killing retired librarian Mary Knowlton in August 2016.

"I was maybe 10 feet away from her, and I watched this patrolman who was the bad guy aim right at her and shoot," Mary's husband, Gary Knowlton, told WINK.

The tragic incident happened at a citizens police academy when Coel was doing a "shoot-don’t shoot" training demonstration.

In the exercise, Mary walked in front of her academy classmates who watched as Coel, pretending to be a criminal, fired his weapon at the 73-year-old woman who suddenly dropped to the ground.

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Many of the onlookers thought her fall was part of the training exercise. No one moved for a few seconds, but then it became apparent that Mary had been hit.

Coel and other officers ran toward Mary and called for medical help.

"He turned her over, and she looked horrible, blood all over the place, and I thought, 'Oh my God,'" Gary recalled. "There was maybe five people who were trying to save her."

However, the nightmare was just beginning for Gary. He said the police would not let him near his wife, sent him to the wrong hospital, and did not notify him immediately of her condition.

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"All I said was, 'I want to find my wife, I don't know if she is alive or dead,'" Gary stated.

When Gary finally got to the correct hospital, he learned that Mary had died in the ambulance without him by her side.

Coel was charged with first-degree manslaughter, but pleaded not guilty.

He was fired from the Punta Gorda Police Department, but appealed his termination.

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis, who is now on administrative leave, was charged with second-degree misdemeanor culpable negligence for Mary's death.

Coel reportedly allowed a police dog to gore Richard Schumacher, who was riding a bicycle without a light, in October 2015.

Scott Weinberg, a lawyer who was/is representing Schumacher in a lawsuit over the dog mauling, told Photography is Not a Crime in August 2016 how he was not surprised that Coel killed Mary:

I’ve been saying for months that this guy was going to kill somebody and now he has killed somebody. Everybody had been put on notice that he was a loose cannon, that he should not have had a badge and a gun.

The city, the state attorney and the police department knew he was not mentally fit to serve the public.

Sources: WINK, Photography is Not a Crime / Photo credit: SAC Daniel Herrick/Wikimedia Commons

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