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Surveillance video shows moment when police officer shoots, kills woman at training event

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Punta Gorda, Fla. (WWSB) -- The incident that started it all is depicted in this newly released surveillance video.

In it you see Mary Knowlton step in front of the crowd, to roll play in a "shoot, don't shoot" scenario being conducted in the parking lot of the Punta Gorda Police Department as part of a citizens police academy training course.

The officer, Lee Coel, can be seen playing the role of the suspect and waving his personal gun. He then fires at Knowlton, who then drops to the ground.

"I was maybe 10 feet away from her," said Gary Knowlton, Mary's husband. "I watched this patrolman who was the bad guy, aiming right at her and shooting."

At first, those watching the role play scenario did not realize Knowlton had actually been shot. But officer Coel walked over to Knowlton, now laying on the ground, and they noticed the contrary: she had been hit with real bullets.

"He turned her over and she looked horrible," Gary said. "Blood all over the place, and I thought, oh my god."

There were maybe five people who were trying to save her.

Other officers then jumped into action to call the paramedics. The surveillance video shows them taking a step back in disbelief. Gary says following the shooting police wouldn't let him in the ambulance with Mary, and he accuses them of sending him to the wrong hospital. What's more, when he arrived to the correct location no one immediately told him her condition.

"All I said was I want to find my wife, I don't know if she's alive or dead," he recalled saying at the time.

Mary died in the ambulance. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated and found no evidence that Coel intended to shoot and kill Knowlton. Still, he was terminated from the police department.

Attorneys representing Coel and the city human resources manager who recommended his termination were in court as Coel appealed the decision.

"There were a verity of things that were compounded upon one another that resulted in this accident," said Coel's attorney, James Brantley. "The truth is the city has decided to hold officer Cole and no one else accountable."