Police Chief Fired In Wake Of Punta Gorda Citizens’ Academy Shooting

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis says the city has fired him, even though he was found not guilty in the death of a woman during an August 2016 citizens’ academy demonstration.

Lewis says City Manager Howard Kunik delivered the termination notice to him Monday. Despite the claim, the city says Chief Lewis’ continued employment still hasn’t been decided.

Lewis was acquitted of culpable negligence charges after an officer demonstrating a shoot/don’t shoot scenario to a group of citizens, ended up shooting to death a woman who had volunteered to take part.

The gun Officer Lee Coel used was supposed to have blanks in it, but due to apparent miscommunication, was loaded with live rounds. The blanks were brought to the demonstration by Chief Lewis, but he did not know that Officer Coel never switched out the real bullets.

Officer Coel was also fired and still faces trial on murder charges in the death of 73 year old retired librarian Mary Knowlton.