Punta Gorda officer’s termination appeal denied

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. Punta Gorda City Manager Howard Kunik on Thursday denied police officer Lee Coel’s appeal of his termination from the force.

The city fired Coel March 9 after an investigation into his role as the trigger man in an August 2016 shooting that killed retired librarian Mary Knowlton at a citizen’s police academy.

He filed an appeal to his termination March 16.

Coel is being charged with first-degree felony manslaughter.

Police Chief Tom Lewis is charged with second-degree culpable negligence, a misdemeanor. He has been on paid administrative leave since the charge was filed.

Lt. Katie Heck, the officer who gave Coel the bullets used in the shooting, is resigning from the department effective Friday. The officer responsible for double-checking Coel’s weapon, Capt. Jeffrey Woodard, has resigned effective June 2.

Reporter:Amanda Hall
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