Lee Coel, the same officer who shot Mary Knowlton on Tuesday during a training drill, was caught on dash cam earlier this year allowing a K9 unit to maul a cyclist for riding without a light. In the video, Coel can be heard ordering the rider to stop and threatening to deploy his K9 attack dog to subdue him.
In another incident of senseless police brutality, Coel stopped the cyclist not because he had committed a crime, but because he was traveling without the appropriate lighting; essentially taking his safety into his own hands. A decision as an adult he should be allowed to make.
The video is full of officer buzzwords and catch phrases and Coel demands the individual’s compliance regardless of the fact that he is being viciously mauled. During the attack the man begs for Coel to stop the dog from ripping his flesh apart but Coel is obviously more interested in imposing his will on another individual rendered helpless by perceived powers granted his badged attacker.
The dash cam video makes it clear that the victim of Coel’s power mongering is not a threat and at no point did he ever pose a danger to the officer. The repeated use of phrases such as “get down”, “stop resisting” and “get on your face”, regardless of the fact that he was already down on the ground is evidence of the mindset when officers are involved in violent behavior that may be perceived as questionable.
Ironically the department suspended the K9 officer named ‘Spirit” but only retrained Lee Coel before sending him back out to patrol the streets.
The man filed an excessive force lawsuit against the Punta Gorda Police Department and as a result the department has subsequently changed its department policy on the use of K9 attack dogs so they are only allowed to be used if the officer is in physical combat.
(Editor’s note: Prior to being hired by the Punta Gorda police, Coel was forced to resign from the Miramar Police Department after two cases of excessive violence were filed against him, including one captured on surveillance video.)