Florida cop Lee Coel released his K-9, Spirit, on a compliant suspect, in a video that went viral recently, and you can see it below too.
He’s facing a civil lawsuit now, and a consecutive second pink slip from a Florida police force.
New information shows the Florida officer has a storied past – not in a good way, and the Punta Gorda Police Department was aware of an excessive force incident by the same officer while serving the Miramar Police Department in Miami-Dade County.
Scott Weinberg is the attorney representing Schumacher in a federal suit and said, “Sadly, I was not shocked but not surprised about the appalling history of the officer.”
Weinberg went on to say that, “The Punta Gorda Police generally behaves professionally. It is specifically Officer Coel who was a liability for the city of Punta Gorda and its fine police department.”
The complete police report can be seen below.
The cyclist who was bit was is now suing the department, and officer for excessive force.
Small town Punta Gorda, Florida grew famous in 2004 after Hurricane Charlie ran ashore devastating the community.
Now it is making headlines just like big cities with police abuses.
Punta Gorda Chief Tom Lewis was asked if officer Coel had any prior incidents of excessive force
He stated Coel had a clean record there, and no complaints against him while with the department.
However, Coel was dismissed from the Miramar Police Department during his probationary period over and excessive force complaint.
Punta Gorda’s chief said that there was also a video of the Miramar excessive force, which his department reviewed during their hiring decision of Coel.
Local news station Fox 4 reached out to the Police Benevolent Association union for comment:
PBA President Matt Sellers stated “Most police departments thoroughly investigate complaints and if you look deeply into each incident individually, you’ll find out that complaints are often more times than not, frivolous and unfounded.”
Sellers went on to say “it is highly unlikely an agency would hire someone with a legitimate high liability.”
Schumacher’s arm was extensively injured, by Spirit, tearing open muscles and degloving his skin from underneath his arm which can be seen below.
Schumacher was charged with fleeing/eluding, DUI, violation of probation, and obstructing; he was also given a warning for no lights on the bicycle”.
Schumacher pled to the lesser charges and quickly released.
In the recent viral video of Coel, he persued Richard Schumacher after seeing him ride his bike without a headlight.
It was a minor safety infraction.
Schumacher refused to immediately stop at the officer’s demand and continued to ride his bicycle for several blocks.
Finally, Schumacher eventually pulled over which led to a series of confusing commands by the Punta Gorda officer.
When, Schumacher was ordered to show his hands and he complied reluctantly after giving the Coel the finger multiple times.
Officer Coel then began barking orders to get on his knees, which Schumacher eventually did too.
Finally, officer Coel ordered Schumacher to get down on his face.
The cyclist gave Coel the finger again, which infuriated Coel, who then ordered his K-9 partner Spirit to attack the suspect for his expression of displeasure.
As Schumacher was struggling to keep the dog off him, officer Coel is heard yelling for him to stop resisting.
Officer Coel continued to struggle with Schumacher without regard to the injury the unleashed K-9 had done.
When Schumacher finally stopped struggling, he sat still awaiting medical treatment while Lt. Reynolds and Coel continued to order a visibly injured Schumacher to lay face down to be cuffed with his hands behind his back.
Even with a gaping hole in the cyclist’s armpit.
Officer Coel’s lone punishment was counseling and retraining regarding the use of a K-9.
For mauling a man in a minor bicycle traffic stop.
Punta Gorda Chief Lewis stated Officer Coel had not violated any departmental policy and would not face further punishment, and he changed the department rules on using animal partners too.
The K-9 however was suspended for an unspecified amount of time until the internal affairs investigation was over.
Spirit the dog was then sent for retraining too.
It’s not the first time PINAC has reported on the poor use of K-9s in law enforcement in the southwestern Florida area.
“Coel should have never been hired after two previous complaints at Miramar,”Weinberg stated, “which lead to his dismissal while he was still in his probationary period. It’s surprising how difficult it is for officers like Coel to be fired even after egregious incidents like the one involving my client Schumacher”.
But Weinberg was still insistent that this incident was not reflective of the small town of Punta Gorda and he stands by the department’s efficacy, but he is seeking Coel’s dismissal in addition to civil damages for his client.
All because a man riding a bike didn’t have a headlight.
He probably doesn’t feel any safer now, but Punta Gorda taxpayers will feel poorer for it.