A woman was fatally shot by a police officer in front of more than two dozen people during a live gun demonstration Tuesday in Florida, the Punta Gorda Police Department said, CBS affiliate WINK reported.
During a “Citizen Police Academy” session on Tuesday night, two participants were randomly selected from the group of 35 community members in attendance to be put through a “shoot/don’t shoot” scenario.
Students were asked to make decisions on using simulated lethal force in a live role play. During the first scenario, participant Mary Knowlton was struck with a live round and was fatally injured, PGPD said in a press release.
She was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
A press release from the department did not identify the officer involved, but said the person was placed on administrative leave, WINK reported.
“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event,” said Chief Tom Lewis in a statement. “If you pray, please pray for Mary’s family, and for the officers who were involved. Everyone involved in this accident is in a state of overwhelming shock and grief.”
CBS News correspondent David Begnaud confirmed the woman was shot by a police officer. The incident occurred around 7 p.m. local time.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been asked to conduct an investigation into the incident.
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According to WINK, the city’s Citizen Academy is a free eight-session course offered to as many as 35 accepted applicants who are interested in learning local civics, according to Punta Gorda’s official website. The class meets biweekly on Tuesdays at different government buildings, though the website says courses are only offered from January to May.
Photos posted in a March PGPD Facebook album titled “Citizen’s Academy 2016” show adult students in a classroom and watching what appears to be live demonstrations.