Punta Gorda opts to settle with family of citizen academy shooting victim

- Two million dollars won't bring Mary Knowlton back.  It does bring some closure to the city of Punta Gorda over her death and it begins to bring closure to her family.

"We feel like it was the right thing to do and we are glad City Council approved it," said City Manager Howard Kunik.

Back in August, the 73-year-old grandmother and librarian was shot and killed by Officer Lee Coel during a training demonstration for the public. Today, City Council members approved a $2-million settlement for her family that ends the possibility of a lawsuit.

Knowlton's family did not attend today's vote, but City Manager Howard Kunik said the settlement is the result of a mutual agreement.

"We briefed them individually about the settlement agreement before the meeting and they felt like they had enough information and felt comfortable enough with the agreement," he said.

Knowlton was highly regarded by many in the community, including Police Chief Tom Lewis.  Today, Chief Lewis told FOX 13 the department has made changes since Knowlton's death.  Real guns are no longer used for public demonstrations and he has made changes to how training equipment is stored.

The settlement comes before the release of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation.
Investigators wrapped up their investigation about two weeks ago and handed it over to the State Attorney's Office.

They are now looking into it and determining if Officer Coel will face any criminal charges.

"It is concerning that we do employ people that might have a tainted past," said Julie McGilliveray.

Julie McGilliveray attended the meeting and questions the settlement. She believes the public hasn't been kept in the loop.

"It is a shame that there is a quiet hush on the whole event. It seems like there has been little talk to the citizens about what really happened," she complained.

No one will know the full details until the State Attorney's Office makes its final decision.  Officer Coel remains on paid administrative leave in the meantime.

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