“Punta Gorda Police Couldn’t Tell Blanks From Wadcutters When He Shot Librarian
From Bearing Arms – Punta Gorda (FL) Police officer Lee Coel didn’t know the difference between lead wadcutters (right, above) and .38 Special blanks (left) when he loaded his personally-owned Smith & Wesson Airweight revolver before a demonstration that saw him fire four rounds and kill a retired librarian in front of horrified onlookers.
There’s a reason why no legitimate police department uses real weapons during force-on-force training.
There’s a reason why we don’t point firearms — loaded or unloaded — at anything we’re not willing to destroy.
There’s a reason why we practice safe muzzle discipline.
There’s a reason why we assume every gun is loaded.
There’s a reason why firearms training should only be presented by qualified instructors.
Mistakes can happen, usually with tragic results.
According to investigative reports and crime scene photos released Wednesday, former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel loaded Blazer .38 Special hollow-base wadcutters into his Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airweight revolver, instead of Winchester blank rounds.
Coel then pointed his revolver at 73-year-old retired librarian Mary Knowlton and pulled the trigger four times.
Knowlton was hit twice.
“Mrs. Knowlton was struck by two of the four bullets that were fired. One bullet ricocheted off the engine hood of the parked car and struck Mrs. Knowlton in the abdomen, where it remained. Another bullet ricocheted off the engine hood and struck her in the inside of her left elbow, where it remained. A third bullet ricocheted off the engine hood and came to rest at an unknown location. The fourth bullet entered and lodged in the driver’s side door of the parked vehicle,” the FDLE report states.
Coel was fired from the Punta Gorda Police Department after he was charged with manslaughter in Mary Knowlton’s death. Knowlton turned and dropped after being hit, first going to her knees, then collapsing headfirst. Onlookers first thought it was part of the demonstration before the horror of what happened set in….”