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Punta Gorda confirms firing of police chief

Posted at 10:57 AM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-30 18:19:22-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- One day after conflicting reports about whether Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis was fired or not, the town's city manager now says Lewis has been fired.

In a memo released Wednesday, city manager Howard Kunik confirms that Lewis has been discharged from his employment at the Punta Gorda Police Department effective August 30th.

On Tuesday, Lewis told Fox 4 that he was fired, but city officials initially denied those reports.

The Punta Gorda Police Department has been under heavy scrutiny since the shooting death of Mary Knowlton last year during a citizen's academy training exercise.

Chief Lewis was charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence in the case, but was found not guilty of the charge in June.

Officer Lee Coel, who fired the shot that killed Knowlton, was fired from the department earlier this year.

During a press conference Wednesday, city manager Howard Kunik said that Chief Lewis demonstrated a "casual approach to citizen safety during demonstrations."

Capt. Jason Ciaschini will continue as acting police chief until a permanent replacement can be found.

The complete Internal Affairs report can be found HERE.