The Latest: Officer identified in Florida police shooting

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Citizens Academy-Police Shooting (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

Authorities have identified the officer who was involved in the accidental shooting death of a 73-old-woman at a citizens academy program being conducted by a Florida police agency.

A Punta Gorda police spokesman identified the officer as Lee Coel and said Coel has worked for that southwest Florida police department since 2014. She said Coel frequently gave department presentations and tours, "specifically role-playing in these shoot/don't shoot scenarios."

The victim was a retired librarian, Mary Knowlton, who attended the police "shoot/don't shoot' demonstration with her husband Tuesday night.

The class put on by the Chamber of Commerce and the Punta Gorda police station, was just one stop during the weeks-long curriculum.

Coel has been placed on administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates.


3:15 p.m.

A police "shoot/ don't shoot" demonstration went awry when a Florida officer shot and killed a 73-year-old former librarian with what police said was real ammunition used by mistake at an event designed to bring law enforcement and the public together.

Authorities didn't immediately say how a gun with a live round came to be used at the demonstration Tuesday evening, noting blank rounds are normally used for such a citizens academy class. The officer, who wasn't immediately identified, has been placed on administrative leave, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating.

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis says authorities were unaware live ammunition was available. He also told reporters The police chief said the weapon was a revolver, not a department-issued service weapon.

The victim was identified as 73-year-old Mary Knowlton, a former librarian.


6:45 a.m.

Police in Florida say a woman has been accidentally shot to death by an officer during a citizens academy exercise.

Multiple media outlets report that Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis says Mary Knowlton was taking part in a roleplaying scenario Tuesday when she was "mistakenly struck with a live round."

Lewis says Knowlton was chosen from about 35 people in the class for a "shoot/don't shoot" simulation. He says she was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The officer involved has not been identified and is on administrative leave pending a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation, Lewis says.

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