Given recent events, I would strongly disagree.
Lewis released dozens of photos and document yesterday from the Aug. 9 killing of retired librarian Mary Knowlton, including investigative reports from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The photos — many too graphic to publish — show Lewis standing near the shooting scene, occasionally wiping his brow, watching as First Responders fight to save the 73-year-old’s life. It was a futile effort. One of the rounds perforated her aorta.
Former PGPD officer Lee Coel, the FDLE reports indicate, loaded wadcutters into his .38 caliber revolver instead of blanks before shooting at Knowlton. The fatal ammunition was given to him by a lieutenant, who brought them from home. Neither of these officers was capable of telling the difference between wadcutters and blanks.
Prosecutors have charged Coel with manslaughter. Lewis fired the young officer after Coel pleaded not guilty.
Lewis was charged with culpable negligence — a misdemeanor — for his role in the killing. He’s been placed on paid leave, but remains employed by the city.
I sent an email this morning to Punta Gorda City Manager Howard Kunik, asking if he planned to fire his police chief. I also sent Lewis an email, asking if he planned to resign.
I have yet to hear back from either man.
In my humble opinion, it’s high time for Lewis to get gone. There’s no walking this one back.
Lewis wasn’t shuffling paperwork in his office when Coel shot Knowlton to death. He was there — at the scene — watching the events unfold. He could have easily put a stop to it. He could have objected when Coel raised his Smith & Wesson Airweight, pointed it toward Knowlton and pulled the trigger four times.
Lewis didn’t do a thing to stop it.
He did nothing.
Since the shooting occurred, I’ve been barraged by calls and emails from firearms instructors, tactical training experts and police officers — both active and retired — all saying the same thing: What were they thinking?
I haven’t heard — not even once — from anyone who defended this “training,”
It’s that bad — that far outside the norm.
Lewis was there — the top cop at the scene.
He could have stopped it.
Now he must go.
Knowlton’s killing was so horrific, yet so easily preventable, there’s no way the chief will be able to provide “superior and extraordinary customer service” to his residents ever again.