Justice requires a vacation in Punta Gorda


Mary Knowlton is shown in family photos.

Mary Knowlton is shown in household photographs through an interview with her son Steve Knowlton Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, in Punta Gorda.  (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

If a civilian firearms trainer accidentally shot and killed a student, I can all but assure he’d be celebrating far more than a handful of birthdays behind bars.

Now, place a badge in his billfold and let him cry some crocodile tears in court and every little thing is forgiven. He shifts from offender to victim and is permitted to go on his merry old way.

Former Punta Gorda Police officer Lee Coel had his day in court yesterday.  He was charged with manslaughter for the 2016 killing of retired librarian Mary Knowlton.

Justice was absolutely not served.

Rather than getting the 15 years imprisonment he was facing, Coel was permitted to plead no-contest to second degree manslaughter. Charlotte County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Steinbeck sentenced Coel to 10 years of probation and withheld adjudication of guilt. So, if Coel effectively completes his probation, the complete factor disappears.

Coel will have to also spend restitution to Knowlton’s widower for the death.

I wonder how considerably the life of a 73-year-old retired librarian is worth.

As you have most likely heard, Coel idiotically loaded wadcutters into his private .38 revolver, considering they have been blanks. The wadcutters had been provided to him by his supervisor, Lt. Katie Heck.

He shot at Knowlton through the most flawed use-of-force demonstration I’ve ever observed, which had been conceived by his idiot Chief of Police, Tom Lewis, who got the concept soon after watching YouTube videos.

Each Coel and Lewis have been fired, but Heck quit the police division ahead of she could be disciplined for her part in the killing and joined the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Workplace. She kept her rank and now serves as the Sheriff’s Public Facts Officer. Her husband operates there as well. He’s also a lieutenant. I’m certain all of this is purely coincidental, and that there wass no superior ole boy networking at function.

In court yesterday, Coel stated that “not a day goes by that I do not replay this in my head.”

He’s properly compensated for these flashbacks.

Immediately after he was fired, Coel filed a lawsuit against the Punta Gorda Board of Trustees for denying him disability pension. His case incorporated statements from two physicians who claim that he suffered PTSD soon after the fatal shooting.

A judge awarded Coel $12,590.70. If he’d been essentially convicted of manslaughter, he would have been needed to forfeit all his “rights and advantages,” such as the pension. Now, he keeps it all.

Prior to she accepted the plea deal, Judge Steinbeck stated, “This is a pretty sad case. There are no winners in this courtroom.”

I strongly disagree.

Coel won.

Knowlton’s widower, Gary, and his two sons absolutely lost.

Justice lost as well.

I guess it took a vacation.


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