City Fires Cop Who Killed Woman, 73 in Drill

Fla. officer had been on leave since last summer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2017 4:46 AM CST

(Newser) – The Florida cop who killed a 73-year-old librarian when he fired real bullets during a role-playing exercise is now an ex-cop. Punta Gorda Officer Lee Coel has been on administrative leave since last summer, when he shot Mary Knowlton dead in front of her husband of 55 years, but he has now been informed that his last day will be Friday, the New York Daily News reports. Coel has said he thought he was firing blanks during the exercise at a citizen police academy event, where Knowlton was among dozens of volunteers.

In a letter to the officer, the city says he should have taken "appropriate and reasonable steps" to ensure the safety of Knowlton, who had been selected at random to play a bad guy, including making sure that no live ammunition was used during the exercise, WBBH reports. Coel—who was accused of using excessive force in his previous job—was charged with felony manslaughter after the death and pleaded not guilty earlier this week. Punta Gorda Police Chief Thomas Lewis is charged with misdemeanor negligence in the shooting. Knowlton's family reached a $2 million settlement with the city last fall. (Read more Florida stories.)

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