Former Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis

Former Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis tapped as Clewiston interim chief

Former Punta Gorda Police Chief Thomas P. Lewis was named interim chief in Clewiston after Chief Aaron Angell resigned.

Clewiston City Manager Randy Martin said, “I am confident that the citizens of Clewiston will be well-served with Tom’s law enforcement administration background. I am pleased a person with his experience is available and has agreed to step into this vitally important transitional leadership role for the department.”

Lewis was fired from the Punta Gorda Police Department in August 2017 for his role in the 2016 accidental shooting death of Mary Knowlton, 73, who was shot and killed during a public “Shoot Don’t Shoot” citizens police academy training exercise.

FILE Photo of retired librarian Mary Knowlton, who is being honored with a space dedicated in her name for teenagers to gather at the brand-new Punta Gorda Charlotte Library August 2019. Knowlton was shot and killed during a police demonstration in 2016. Credit: Photo via WINK News.

Former officer Lee Coel was charged for pulling the trigger of a gun with live bullets, instead of blanks, that killed Knowlton. He ultimately pleaded no contest as part of a plea deal and received 10 years probation.

Initially, the State Attorney’s Office said Lewis put Knowlton in danger by failing to implement sufficient safety protocols. Shortly after the incident, he said had no intention of resigning but vowed to make changes to department procedures.

Lewis was later acquitted of culpable negligence in Knowlton’s death.

Interim Chief designate Lewis stated of his new position: “I appreciate the trust and responsibility to lead the men and women of the agency in this capacity. We will remain focused on serving our citizens and providing the best service in South Florida.”

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