PUNTA GORDA, FLORIDA — A Florida resident was shot and killed by a police officer during a training exercise at the police station on Tuesday night.
The victim has been identified as 73-year-old Mary Knowlton. She was one of the 35 students who attended a two-hour Citizen Police Academy course offered at the Punta Gorda police station.
According to the New York Times, Knowlton and another student were randomly chosen to participate in a role-play exercise known as ‘shoot/don’t shoot’, which aims at teaching them the decision-making process when facing lethal forces. These sessions are usually acted out with either fake or empty weapons.
Knowlton was killed in the first scenario, in which she played the victim while an officer played the “bad guy”. It is not known why the officer’s gun was loaded with live ammunition. A photographer who witnessed the incident told the News-Press in Fort Myers that the officer had hired several shots at Knowlton.
The Punta Gorda police department did not disclose where Knowlton was shot or how many shots were fired. The officer who fired the shots has been placed on administrative leave.