Home / Badge Abuse / Cop AND Police Chief Charged for Killing 73-Year-old Librarian in Role Playing Exercise

Cop AND Police Chief Charged for Killing 73-Year-old Librarian in Role Playing Exercise

Punta Gorda, FL — In August 2016, Punta Gorda police officer Lee Coel gunned down 73-year-old Mary Knowlton in front of dozens of stunned onlookers, during a demonstration about police use of deadly force. More than six months passed while law enforcement conducted their investigation and Coel has now been charged, finally.

In a landmark move, Punta Gordo Police Chief Tom Lewis, who adamantly defended his deadly negligent officer, was also charged. Coel has been charged with manslaughter, a first-degree felony, and Lewis charged with culpable negligence, a second-degree misdemeanor, according to State Attorney Steve Russell.

According to WINK News, Coel turned himself in and was arrested. He’s posted $5,000 bond and was released from the Charlotte County Jail at around 3 p.m.

Lewis will not be arrested but was given a summons to appear in court April 5. He said after the shooting that he had no intention of resigning but vowed to make changes to department procedures.

Last August, Mary Knowlton signed up to be a student in the citizen police academy hosted by the Punta Gorda Police Department, intended to show residents of the small town why and how officers do what they do.

After the group of 35 participants toured the police station and spoke with officers — a popular public relations tactic used by departments across the country amid the epidemic of police violence — Knowlton and another person decided to volunteer for a demonstration.

To illustrate how and when officers decide to use lethal force, the officer had the two students role-play a scenario putting citizens in cops’ shoes.

According to Charlotte Sun photographer, Sue Paquin, who was there to cover the event, Knowlton played the role of a victim, while the officer played “bad guy.”

Such a simulation would ordinarily not pose any danger to participants, as weapons would either be fake or empty.

Not this time.

When the officer fired, live ammunition hit Knowlton — several times.

The elderly wife and mother was promptly rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital, but was pronounced dead.

“I’ve been saying for months that this guy was going to kill somebody and now he has killed somebody,” attorney Scott Weinberg said of Coel during a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime last year.

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“Everybody had been put on notice that he was a loose cannon, that he should not have had a badge and a gun. The city, the state attorney and the police department knew he was not mentally fit to serve the public.”

As the Free Thought Project previously reported, Coel had no business being there that day, much less possessing a badge.

According to WINK, Coel received two excessive force complaints as a rookie officer with Miramar police in 2012. One was for pulling a handcuffed man by the ankles from the back of his police vehicle, and the other was for nearly suffocating a suspect by turning the heat on high and not rolling down the windows, according to media reports.

He was forced to resign from his job.

Punta Gordo Police Chief Tom Lewis knew of Coel’s trouble and accepted him anyway, something 20 other law enforcement agencies refused to do.

After only a short time on the Punta Gorda Police Department, Coel was captured on his own dashcam forcing his K9 to maul an unarmed and surrendering man for riding his bicycle with no lights.

Because the man was in a diminished mental state, he was not complying precisely and as quickly as Coel demanded, so he released his dog. For the next several minutes, the dog tore into the man as he screams in agony.

About one minute into the mauling, in between shouts of “Stop Resisting,” officer Coel tells the dog, “Good boy,” as it tears the man’s flesh from his arm.

The officer continues to yell at the man to stop resisting as if someone can simply lay calmly as a dog tears a hole in them.

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Finally, Coel stops the attack; only after the scene begins to resemble a horror movie. As other officers arrive, the man lays on the ground, covered in his own blood and bleeding out.

When other officers see how badly injured he is, they had to call in for a helicopter to medivac him to the nearest hospital.

Coel was never disciplined for the gruesome and torturous act above. However, he was sued by the victim. He was also sued by the family of Knowlton and the taxpayers were held liable for the sum of $2 million in November — although no amount of money could possibly take away the pain of losing your loved one to the barrel of a public servant’s gun.

On Thursday, the department announced that Chief Lewis is now on paid administrative leave.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project.  and now on Steemit

  • David Daisy May Boldock

    That cop needs a lions jowls around his neck. The sick vicious bastard is not fit for purpose.

  • The Cat’s Vagina

    I understand why “paid administrative leave” is a thing. Cops shouldn’t have their lives financially devastated by a spiteful accusation that takes a few weeks to disprove. However, officers who are found to be even the slightest bit guilty after a long and leisurely paid vacation should have to give it all back. I understand why an innocent officer should be protected, but why should a guilty one get to keep a bunch of free money that can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, all at taxpayer expense! (I think those last two words may have answered the question.)

    • Anonymous

      Some of them make HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars a year.

    • Thebob

      even if the Officer is found “guilty” or at fault THE TAX PAYER STILL PAYS FOR IT…

  • J Coleman

    I like your site. Your writing on Government corruption is unsurpassed. I really don’t understand your fixation on police screw ups and bad cops. Is it because you think nothing will be done if you don’t report every single one.? There are 1.4 million LEOs in the country shits going to happen. I guess l’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you are seeking out stories like this because they are so rare (like people getting hit by lightning) and not because you hate cops and want to draw as much negative attention to them as possible in the hope of stirring more violence which l have no doubt many are doing

    • Peace and Love

      Your idiocy is unsurpassed, you fucking troll.

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        OK, I gotta call bullshit here. Not on the idiocy or troll indictments, but come on. Unsurpassed? As idiocy goes, this is rather mediocre!

        • Peace and Love

          lol– you do have a good point.

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      I don’t pretend to speak for Mr. Agorist, but I get the impression that he’s passionate about cases of police abuse because they’re NEVER EVER punished for even the most appallingly obvious wrongdoing. When in the course of human history has that much power and impunity ended any way but very badly? These stories spread awareness of this dangerously escalating trend, so he’s actually making a difference. What have YOU done today to help anyone or anything?

    • Mark Skinner

      It is timely for me to see J Coleman’s post here, because I was just about to post a comment asking the same question. I agree, shit happens…..but it seems like America is just full of lunatic police who shoot first and then have another doughnut.

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        To the people they terrorize, murder, and extort, the world really DOES seem full of corrupt Bullies In Blue and nobody wants to punish them for anything they do, ever. It’s almost getting to the point where it’s not even their fault anymore… like badly raised children. What the fuck do you EXPECT when you literally reward sadistic behavior with nary a consequence? Our society has gotten lazy and cowardly, so we’ve given too much power to our “protectors” and now they’ve become the bullies. They’re not going to give up this power willingly, and they have LOTS of weapons and resources to fight those who seek to take it. We’re in for a rough couple of decades – strap in!

    • Anonymous

      So, you think it is ok when cops behave badly and nothing happens to them? This has been going on for years, but, before it was typically handled by “he beat me for no reason” and a response of “shut the fuck up, criminal!” How many videos have there been of police beating people for “resisting” when they were just lying on the ground doing nothing? The department proceeds to clear the officers of any wrongdoing because “he was resisting,” then suddenly, this video surfaces showing the guy they beat…doing nothing. The area where we live…if it is your word against a cop…the cop wins…even if you have video proving it!!!

    • Thebob

      Matt Argoist is a Marine…I can relate to why we does these articles…We in the armed forces would NEVER get away with treating real bad guys the way our So called Peace Officers get away with doing…We had something call RoE or Rules of Engagement; we the MILITARY fighting in WAR ZONE were given RULES to abide by IN A COMBAT ZONE with IED’s and Citizens who carry FULLY AUTOMATIC RIFLES around all the time…Police who are suppose to protect citizens, which they don’t, do not have to follow these same Rules nor do they even have an RoE….We the Military COULD NOT FIRE UNLESS TWO REQUIREMENTS COULD BE MET…ONE: BEING FIRED UPON TWO: HAD TO HAVE DIRECT CLEAR LINE OF SIGHT OF THE THREAT; even if said threat drops their weapon after firing and we fired and killed that threat WE WOULD BE CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES….

      Police have no regards for safety of anyone but themselves and their Union brothers…If you want to stop hearing about bad cops then how about we get good cops to standup and make those bad cops examples of WHAT NOT TO DO…What you seem to be missing is the Police; backed up by SCOTUS; are not here for your or my protection they are ONLY EMPLOYED TO DO THE BIDDING OF THE STATE that is it, they owe you nor I nor any citizen anything and they DO NOT WORK FOR THEIR COMMUNITIES NOR THE PEOPLE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES THEY WORK FOR THE STATE end of story….
      I can respect what they are meant to do; I do not have to respect the man just because they wear a badge….

      I’d rather have Total Anarchy than a Cop on every Corner. At least you know what to expect with total anarchy…Cop you don’t if he is having a bad day and blows you away ’cause he/she felt threatened’ is a viable argument….

      • Gary Smith

        Can you help me understand the difference between a cop and a soldier? Everyone in the military is “EMPLOYED TO DO THE BIDDING OF THE STATE”.

        • Thebob

          When was the last time you heard of a Soldier arresting a Citizen? One major difference, soldiers Defend the Constitution, while Cops try to break and get around the Constitution…Soldiers don’t have Rights or very few of them, and when a Soldier commits a crime they are punished for it, even the most basic crimes…You are right though there isn’t much difference when our Military is treated and trained like Occupying Police Force…yet we in the Military are not treated the same, we don’t have the same Rights, nor do we have powerful Union full of thugs backing us…Just our order to Defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic…

          • Gary Smith

            I see more domestic enemies than foreign ones. In fact, most of them are all in one place, day in and day out. Why hasn’t the military gone after them?

            Cops and soldiers receive – and OBEY (that’s key!) – orders given to them by criminals.

            Why should I be concerned with defending the Constitution? It has been unable to stop the government from trampling on anyone’s freedoms for the last 200 years.

          • Thebob

            You are close to the right mind…We the people have let this happen that is why…You and I and many others…We reserve the right to over throw our Gov’t if we the People so deem it necessary to do so…As V said it, “you only need look in the mirror.”

    • David Hall

      You are a boot licker and a cop sucker from the word go. This shit happens with cops thousands of times a month. You are a moron.

    • Someone has to report this. Keep it up FTP.

    • Azuel Ibrahim Ivanov

      sound like you are a pigshit… stfu and sit the fuck down… once corruption starts to spread its a parasite…. it will only get worse and worse till there is no control… do some studies in history and you will see the patterns.

    • gininitaly

      Cops have been proven to be government approved sadists and thanks to this site it has finally come to light.

    • It’s because the 1.4M LEOs don’t denounce the bad ones. Just the opposite; they form a union whose sole purpose is to protect the bad ones.

  • Anonymous

    Copsuckers would still be like “he just needed to stop resisting.” You are supposed to hold still while a dog is pulling on your arm? How do you do that?

    • Copsuckers… beautiful man.

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  • Mother Earth

    Michael Moore’s documentary “Where to Invade Next” is interesting doc and after watching it can see a huge difference in humanity in different parts of the world, Democracy is merely a word in America

  • Carvagio

    Disgusting.