The death of Mary Knowlton during a police training exercise proves that you don’t have to be a thug, criminal or in the process of committing a crime to be shot and killed by a police officer who has not been properly trained. Constantly there are instances of civilians coming into contact with police officers and somehow the civilian ends up hurt or even dead. The mass population is usually quick to put the blame for the person’s death on themselves. People say well if they had been more respectful, hadn’t run, hadn’t been in the area….. What do you tell the family of Mary Knowlton then?
Mary Knowlton was a 73 -year-old librarian at Scott County Public Library. On the evening of Tuesday, August 8, 2016, she was taking part in a event orchestrated by the Citizens Police Academy at the Punta Gorda Police Department. The event was a part of an 8 week session of free classes for local residents to help them understand the role of the various city resources. In front of approximately 35 people, Knowlton was shot dead by a Punta Gorda, Florida officer who has not yet been named. Mary Knowlton, along with one other local resident had been picked to be volunteers in a scenario involving a good and bad guy in a “shoot/don’t shoot” scene.
Somehow the officer taking part in the exercise with Mary Knowlton had not checked to make sure he was not firing live rounds. The officer was supposed to be shooting blanks but instead shot several live bullets into the septuagenarian.
Mary Knowlton was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. “I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event,” Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis told reporters.
“If you pray, please pray for Mary’s family, and for the officers who were involved. Everyone involved in this accident is in a state of overwhelming shock and grief.” He added.
The Citizen’s Police Academy is a national organization designed to open the lines of communication between the community and the Police Department according to the National Citizen’s Police Academy Association website. The site states that
“Generally, the relationship between the police and the citizen is one of “love/hate”. To the Citizen, it may frequently appear that the police are not doing their job or are exceeding their boundaries. By allowing citizens a firsthand look at what rules, regulations and policies the police follow, some of the misunderstanding may be alleviated. The objective of the Citizen Police Academy is not to train an individual to be a “Reserve Police Officer” but to produce informed citizens.
The Citizens and Police Officers meet each other face to face in a neutral, friendly setting and each becomes a person to the other. In the past, citizens have simply seen a uniform, now they have an understanding about the person behind the badge.”
The shooting investigation has been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. As of now it is still unclear why the officer had a weapon with live rounds at a training session. The officer who shot Mary Knowlton has been placed on administrative leave per department policy. Politicians are screaming about getting the guns off the street, I write so many stories about officers who need their guns taken away. R.I.P. Mrs. Knowlton.