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Officer in fatal role-playing shooting got 'overly excited' on job

Lee Coel's file shows few issues with Miramar Police Department

MIRAMAR, Fla. – Punta Gorda police Officer Lee Coel's personnel file with the Miramar Police Department is thick. 

The former Broward County resident graduated from Cooper City High School. He went on to college to earn a degree as a vet tech, according to his file. But a desire to fight crime led him to apply to the Miramar Police Department, where he would spend a little more than a year on the force.

Coel was forced to resign in 2013. He cited "personal reasons." He would later join the Punta Gorda Police Department, where earlier this week he killed a 73-year old woman during a training exercise.

Mary Knowlton, a former librarian, was participating in a community role-playing event designed to show the public how police are forced to make split-second decisions.

Witnesses said Coel fired at Knowlton with what was supposed to be blanks, but somehow that weapon had live ammunition.

Coel achieved high marks on some performance evaluations with the Miramar Police Department. But he long struggled on the streets with navigating the city, records show. He was involved in a crash in 2013.

One reprimand cites repeated mistakes on traffic stops. Another superior told him to manage his stress levels and avoid getting "overly excited" while on the job.

According to his internal affairs file, Coel had two arrestees claim that he nearly caused them to pass out by trapping them in hot police cars and then roughing them up.

In one case, investigators only found that Coel was driving too fast. But another investigation found that Coel violated the Miramar Police Department's code of conduct after surveillance video showed him yanking a suspect by the legs out of a police cruiser.


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