punta gorda police

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.

Michael Hirsh

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis is on administrative leave with pay today after being charged with culpable negligence in the death of a woman participating in a citizen’s academy last August.

Officer Lee Coel will have a disciplinary hearing with the city’s human resources manager and labor attorney to determine his future employment status with the Punta Gorda police department. Coel has the right to appeal the outcome to the city manager. He was charged with manslaughter yesterday in the death of Mary Knowlton during the shoot/don’t shoot demonstration last August.

Punta Gorda Settles Over Officer Involved K-9 Incident

Oct 17, 2016

Correction: The attorney for the company that insures Punta Gorda against claims in cases like this, Nikki Nate of the Bryant Miller Olive firm in Tampa, says the settlement is for $70,000. Reporter Michael Hirsh was originally told by his source it was for $73,000. 

WGCU News has learned the insurance company for Punta Gorda has reached a settlement in a year-old police dog-bite case. The officer involved is the same one who shot and killed a 73-year-old volunteer in a shoot-don’t shoot demonstration at police headquarters in August.

Last October 30th, Punta Gorda canine officer Lee Coel tried to stop Richard Schumacher from riding his bicycle without a working taillight.

Michael Hirsh

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis held his monthly “Coffee with the Chief” today, four weeks after one of his officers shot and killed a Punta Gorda resident during a demonstration.