Punta Gorda Officer, Chief Charged in Fatal Demonstration Shooting

Feb 23, 2017

The Punta Gorda police officer who shot and killed a local woman in an August citizens demonstration has been charged with manslaughter. The city's police chief also faces a charge of culpable negligence in the shooting death of 73-year-old Mary Knowlton.

The felony charge against Officer Lee Coel, with the department's K9 unit, has been on paid suspension since the shooting, come after a lengthy Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation. Coel surrendered at the Charlotte County Jail and was released on $5,000 bond. Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis was served with a written summons for the second-degree misdemeanor charge he faces. 

Thursday at 1:30 p.m. on Gulf Coast Live, WGCU News reporter Michael Hirsh details his reporting on the story from the initial shooting to the charges filed yesterday. 

Joining the conversation is criminal defense attorney Jerry Berry, representing Coel against the charges. 

Also joining the conversation is attorney Scott Weinberg, a former Charlotte County prosecutor and attorney who represented a client in a complaint against the City of Punta Gorda on an unrelated dog-bite case involving Officer Coel.