Punta Gorda agrees to $2M Citizens Academy shooting settlement

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — An agreement in principle has been reached on a more than $2 million settlement for the husband of the Punta Gorda Citizen’s Academy shooting victim, documents from the City of Punta Gorda show.

The proposed agreement is between the City of Punta Gorda and Gary Knowlton, the husband of Mary Knowlton, who was shot in August by a police officer during a Citizens Academy training exercise. If the City Council ratifies it, it would exonerate the city from any future legal interaction regarding this case, according to the documents.

Gary Knowlton previous expressed no plans to sue for damages of any kind. He declined comment Tuesday, other than to say he’s glad to get some closure.

WINK News also reached out to Gary Knowlton’s attorney, but he said he has no comment regarding this deal yet.

The proposed agreement will be discussed at the city council meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, located at 326 W. Marion Ave. in Punta Gorda.

The news comes on the heels of the city’s call for applications for Citizens Academy winter classes, just three months after the shooting. The Citizens Academy is a free, eight-session course designed to provide insight into city government with an eye toward leadership development, according to the city.

The city last month reached a settlement in an unrelated case with Lee Coel, the Punta Gorda Police Department officer who shot Mary Knowlton. Coel was placed on administrative leave after the shooting.

The police department couldn’t be reached for comment, saying they were not involved in the settlement process.

Punta Gorda Mayor Rachel Keesling said she had nothing more to add beyond what’s stated in the settlement.

The matter of criminal charges for Coel is in the hands of the state attorney’s office. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement two weeks ago turned its criminal investigative report over to the state attorney for a review. That report has yet to be made public.

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