Son of woman killed in Citizens Academy shooting says he’s still waiting for apology


PUNTA GORDA, Fla. The City of Punta Gorda announced Tuesday it would be hosting Citizens Academy 2018.

The announcement comes more than one year after a 73-year-old retired librarian was killed in a Citizens Academy role-playing demonstration.

Mary Knowlton was fatally shot by former Punta Gorda police officer Lee Coel on Aug. 9, 2016 during a “shoot-don’t shoot” exercise.

Coel used his personal revolver loaded with live rounds instead of blanks. He’s since been fired and lost an appeal of his termination as he awaits a trial next year on a first-degree manslaughter charge.

MORE: Aftermath of citizens academy shooting lingers one year later

Mary’s son, Steve Knowlton, says he never received an apology from the police department.

“I understand they need to rebuild their trust in the community, but an apology would have gone a long way,” Steve Knowlton said.

MORE: Fired Punta Gorda officer sues city over disability pension

Steve Knowlton hopes the department learned from its mistakes and increases safety measures.

“I know they have to build PR back in that town, so I guess this is a start and I hope they practice safety to the nth degree and not put anybody’s life at risk,” he said.

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