Police Chief Fired Over Fatal Citizens Academy Exercise
The police chief in a Southwest Florida city has been fired just more than a year after one of his officers accidentally shot and killed a woman during a citizens academy exercise.
Punta Gorda City Manager Howard Kunik announced Tom Lewis' termination on the city's website Wednesday after an internal investigation. It found a casual approach to citizen safety during demonstrations and a non-standardized approach that created unnecessary risk for everyone involved.
Authorities say former Officer Lee Coel mistakenly shot and killed 73-year-old Mary Knowlton during a role-playing scenario last August. Lewis, as Coel's boss, had been charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence, but a jury acquitted him in June. Kunik says the internal investigation began immediately after the trial.
Coel has been charged with manslaughter, though no trial date has been set.