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Mary Knowlton Shooting: Officer Charged in Police Training Death

Image: Mary Knowlton Shooting: Officer Charged in Police Training Death

Left: Mary Knowlton (Screengrab via Twitter) Right: Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel is pictured in this undated handout photo, received Aug. 11, 2016. (Punta Gorda Police Department/Handout via Reuters)

By    |   Thursday, 23 Feb 2017 03:03 PM

A Florida police officer who accidentally shot and killed Mary Knowlton during a training exercise last summer has been charged in the incident.

The officer, Lee Coel, was charged with felony manslaughter in Charlotte County on Wednesday for shooting Knowlton, who was 73 at the time, according to Star Tribune.

The fatal shot was fired during a “shoot/don’t shoot” exercise.

Police Chief Tom Lewis has been charged with culpable negligence, a misdemeanor.

The incident took place during a citizen’s police academy demonstration in August, according to the Daily Mail.

Knowlton was a retired school librarian and a mother of two.

Coel was taken into custody after being charged, but was later released after posting a $5,000 bail, according to WINK News.

Lewis was not arrested and is scheduled to appear in court in April.

According to the Daily Mail, Knowlton had been selected at random to participate in the training exercise that ultimately led to her untimely death.

In a role-playing exercise, Coel was playing the “bad guy.” He had a gun in his possession, but it was supposed to only have blanks, not bullets.

Coel fired a shot that ended up hitting Knowlton in her shoulder and chest, as her husband was reportedly about 10 feet away from her.

Following the incident, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement placed Coel on administrative leave.

Coel’s attorney, Jerry Berry, said Coel "did not know there was live ammunition in that gun. He's devastated," Star Tribune noted.

"Once we can present our side of the case and additional facts that [prosecutors] might not know about, we're comfortable that the case will be dismissed or a jury will find him not guilty," Berry said, according to Star Tribune.

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A Florida police officer who accidentally shot and killed Mary Knowlton during a training exercise last summer has been charged in the incident.
mary knowlton, shooting, officer, charged
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2017-03-23
Thursday, 23 Feb 2017 03:03 PM
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