Former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel has applied for a disability pension for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he claims he now suffers after he shot and killed retired librarian Mary Knowlton during shoot/no-shoot “training” held Aug. 9 at the police department.
If the police pension board grants Coel’s request, he could receive approximately 65 percent of his former $42,000 salary.
The pension board will meet next month to consider Coel’s application.
Coel loaded wadcutters into his .38 caliber revolver instead of blanks before the demonstration, which was presented to Knowlton and other Chamber of Commerce invitees. Coel then shot and killed Knowlton while her husband watched from just feet away. The killing made international news.
Coel was charged with manslaughter for the killing, and was fired after he pleaded not guilty. His criminal case is pending.
Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis was charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence for his role in Knowlton’s death. His trial begins next week.
Quite frankly, I’ve never seen or even heard of anything this egregious in my life.
Has this man no shame?
To be clear, Coel took the life of a 71-year-old grandmother who was beloved in the community and adored by her family and now he wants to get paid for the trauma that he claims to suffer!
He’s making a mockery of this horrible and tragic death, and he’s dishonoring those with legitimate trauma claims.
I know dozens of young men and women who spent years of their lives serving our country in hellholes around the world. They engaged the enemy. They watched their friends die. They suffered horrific wounds — some losing limbs.
Some still carry their wars with them. They deserve compassion, care and compensation.
Coel, in my humble opinion, doesn’t deserve shit.
He needs to go away, drop out of the public eye, work on his defense strategy and pray he doesn’t get sentenced to a stretch in prison if he’s convicted of the felony charge.
He’s abused the system enough for now.