Board denies disability pension for former Punta Gorda officer

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FILE Photo of former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel and Librarian Mary Knowlton from December 2016. Credit: WINK News.

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. A board voted unanimously Friday morning to deny a disability pension for the former officer accused of fatally shooting a 73-year-old woman during a training exercise.

Lee Coel, who faces charges of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of retired librarian Mary Knowlton during a “shoot, don’t shoot” scenario in August 2016, filed for a disability pension in June.

The Punta Gorda Police Officer’s Pension Fund Board determined Coel was not eligible for the pension because those who are terminated are not entitled to disability benefits.

Coel claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the shooting, the Charlotte Sun reported.

Only Coel’s attorney was present in court Friday.

A jury determined on June 29 Police Chief Tom Lewis was not responsible for the actions resulting in Knowlton’s death. Central to the Lewis trial was whether Lewis had the proper safety protocols in place, and whether Coel violated those policies.

The city placed Lewis on paid administrative leave the day after he was charged with culpable negligence and a second-degree misdemeanor. Lewis will remain on leave until an internal investigation is complete.

Coel, who will face trial next year, used his personal weapon loaded with live ammunition, as opposed to blanks, during the deadly training exercise.

WINK News reporter Brooke Shafer provided the latest details on Facebook:

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