Police Shooting: Florida Librarian Mary Knowlton Dead After Training Exercise Gone Wrong

A fatal police shooting on Tuesday in Punta Gorda, Florida, was unlike most, in that there was allegedly no ill intent, protesters, or poor judgment involved. It actually had more in common with Brandon Lee’s The Crow than the shootings in the past.

In The Crow, there was a scene where the hero was shot and killed by several bad guys. However, at least one of the rounds used for the scene was live, ending in the actor’s untimely death. The same thing allegedly happened to Florida librarian Mary Knowlton, who had volunteered to help police with a training exercise.

It was intended to be a role-playing scenario in which the police officer played the bad guy and Knowlton was the victim. It was supposed to be an exercise in when not to shoot, and show the public how police are supposed to handle these things. However, the “bad guy” allegedly wasn’t aware that there was a live round in his weapon when he shot Knowlton.

Police Chief Tom Lewis had been in charge of the two hour exercise, in which 35 civilians were involved. It was intended to help officers decide when lethal force is necessary, something which recent police shootings have brought to light.

One of them ended in the deaths of three officers in Dallas, further escalating the problem that some don’t know when or when not to pull the trigger.

Many times in recent months, police across the United States have shown poor judgment or some degree of racial disregard when they shot unarmed suspects. Punta Gorda Police Chief Lewis was attempting to be proactive in helping to stem the unfortunate trend by showing his subordinates when to use their firearms in given situations.

After the police shooting which resulted in Mary Knowlton being shot, she was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Police Chief Tom Lewis has expressed his deep sorrow over the fatal mistake.

“Our entire police department and all of our city leaders are absolutely devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event. I am asking if you pray, you pray for Mary’s husband and family and for all the officers and witnesses that were involved in this incident. Everyone involved is in a state of overwhelming shock and grief.

“The Punta Gorda Police Department realizes that our community will have many questions about this incident. We also must take great care to not jeopardize the investigation. As the investigation continues and more information is available we will be as transparent as possible, and release that information.”

An investigation has been opened over the circumstances behind why the firearm had a live round in it. Someone may have been tampering with the equipment used, or possibly forgot to check the weapon for live ammunition. Either way, someone was responsible. The officer who had shot the live round and killed Knowlton has been placed on administrative leave as the situation is being evaluated.

The officer involved in the police shooting on Tuesday has not been named, possibly to keep the public from retaliating and making the problem worse.

Minnesota native Carolyn Hartwigsen was a good friend of the police shooting victim and says that Knowlton had a love for books.

“So much is on the internet now. But, books are so important to have in children’s hands. That was important to her.”

Mary and her husband would occasionally visit Minnesota with her husband of 50 years, and the two of them had two sons.

[Image via Alina Zamogilnykh / Shutterstock.com]