Lee Coel

Photo: Michael Hirsh, WGCU

Punta Gorda City Manager Howard Kunik is waiting for the results of an internal affairs report before he decides whether suspended Police Chief Tom Lewis keeps or loses his job. Lewis was acquitted of culpable negligence the last week of June in the death of 73-year-old Mary Knowlton during a shoot/don’t shoot demonstration at police headquarters last August.

Michael Hirsh

Judge Devin George is expected to rule on a defense motion to dismiss a misdemeanor charge of culpable negligence against Punta Gorda’s suspended police chief, Tom Lewis this week. The charge grows out of last August’s death of 73-year-old Mary Knowlton as she participated in a shoot/don’t shoot demonstration at police headquarters.

Apparent negligence by the Punta Gorda Police Department resulted in the shooting death of a senior citizen last August as she volunteered in a shoot/don’t shoot scenario at police headquarters. The officer who fired the shot has been charged with felony manslaughter. He was fired and is appealing his termination this week. The city’s police chief, Tom Lewis, is charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence. He is on paid administrative leave.

Punta Gorda’s Human Resources Manager has fired Police Officer Lee Coel effective today.

The notice of termination comes just a week after Coel and his attorney met with city officials. He now has ten days to appeal the firing to the city manager. Coel was suspended last August when he shot and killed 73 year old Mary Knowlton during a shoot/don’t shoot demonstration at police headquarters.

Photos: Punta Gorda Police Department Facebook and website

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.