- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on the case of a Florida officer who shot and killed a woman during a police “shoot/don’t shoot” demonstration (all times local):

5 p.m.

Records show a police officer who fatally shot a woman during a citizens academy class was twice accused of excessive use of force at a previous department where he worked.

The Miramar Police Department records released Thursday show that Officer Lee Coel was accused in April 2013 of pulling a suspect from the back of a police cruiser by his ankles, causing the man to land forcefully on the pavement. Investigators agreed it was too much force.

A second allegation in March 2013 involving rough handling of another suspect was ruled unfounded, although investigators said he drove the man over 100 mph in his cruiser in violation of policy.

Coel resigned from the Miramar department in April 2013 after about 14 months. He was hired by the Punta Gorda Police Department in March 2014.

On Tuesday, Coel mistakenly shot 73-year-old Mary Knowlton during a “shoot/don’t shoot” exercise at the Punta Gorda department. The shooting is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.


11:30 a.m.

The Punta Gorda police chief says he is taking full responsibility after one of his officers shot and killed a woman during a police “shoot/don’t shoot” demonstration.

Chief Tom Lewis said Thursday during a news conference that he is 100 percent accountable. At a citizens’ academy meeting on Tuesday night, officer Lee Coel mistakenly shot 73-year-old Mary Knowlton during the exercise.

Immediately after the shooting, the police chief says authorities secured the scene and called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. He says it should take that agency between two to four weeks to complete its probe.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave.

The chief says they are offering counseling to Knowlton’s family as well as police and members of the community who witnessed the shooting.


Corrects day of shooting to Tuesday, not Monday.


4 a.m.

The officer who shot and killed a woman during a police “shoot/don’t shoot” demonstration in Florida was accused of using excessive force with his police dog and resigned from another police agency in 2013 for failing to satisfactorily complete an agency field training program.

Officer Lee Coel was put on administrative leave Tuesday as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates why real ammunition was used by mistake at an event designed to bring police and the public together in Punta Gorda.

Authorities are expected to hold a news conference about the shooting Thursday morning.

Mary Knowlton, a 73-year-old retired librarian who attended the demonstration with her husband of 55 years, died when Coel shot her with a revolver that was supposed to contain blanks.

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