For the price of $70,000, Punta Gorda police officer Lee Coel can claim he did nothing wrong by allowing his dog to attack and maul a man for riding his bicycle at night without lights.
Not that he will pay a dime of that settlement. And not that it will absolve him of shooting and killing a 73-year-old woman during a citizens academy training exercise in which he was supposed to be using blanks.
That second incident would never have occurred if he had been fired for the dog mauling incident, but Coel is an award-winning officer, which apparently gives him protective status.
Attorney Scott Weinberg, who represented the victim in the dog mauling case, had tried his best to warn the police chief and city council that they had a loose cannon on their hands, but they failed to heed his advice.
The dog mauling incident took place on October 30, 2015 when Coel spotted Richard Schumacher riding his bicycle through the sleepy Southwestern Florida town without lights.
google_ad_client = “ca-pub-8719239441051793”;
google_ad_slot = “3606839893”;
google_ad_width = 300;
google_ad_height = 600;
Sensing Schumacher was placing himself in danger, Coel ordered him to stop or he would send his attack dog.
But Schumacher kept peddling, so Coel sped up behind him and pulled him over on a quiet residential street.
Coel ordered Schumacher to get on his knees, then on his face, to ensure officer safety because you never know about those guys riding their bikes without lights.
“Get on your knees, do it now,” Coel orders as his dog, Spirit, can be heard barking from the backseat.
But Schumacher was being stubborn, remaining standing for more than a minute with his hands in the air, at times flipping the cop off, before he eventually got down on one knee.
“Get down on your face,” Coel then orders. “Get down on your chest.”