PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (KMSP) - The family of the Austin, Minnesota woman mistakenly shot and killed by an officer during a citizen police academy session in Florida reached a $2 million settlement Tuesday with the City of Punta Gorda.
The incident occurred on Aug. 9. Officers with the Punta Gorda Police Department hosted 35 people from the community for a two-hour session. Two participants, including Mary Knowlton, 73, were randomly selected to be put through a “shoot-don’t shoot” scenario in which they faced decisions on using simulated lethal force in a live role play.
During the session, police said Knowlton was struck with a live round and killed. The officer's gun was supposed to be filled with blanks, but mistakenly been loaded with live ammo mixed with blanks.
A settlement agreement worth more than $2 million was made between the City of Punta Gorda and Gary Knowlton and the Estate of Mary Knowlton. According to the settlement, the city denied any wrongdoing in the incident and maintains that they are not liable for Knowlton’s death.
The Punta Gorda City Council will vote on Wednesday to approve the settlement.
Knowlton was a librarian at the Scott County Public Library in Minnesota before moving to Punta Gorda. She also worked as a librarian at Parkview Elementary School in Rosemount from 1988 to 2004 and had been a substitute there as recently as 2013.