A South Florida police chief has been
suspended after he blamed a gay cop's COVID-19 death on his
A complaint was filed against Chief
Dale Engle, the head of the Town of Davie's police department, after
he spoke with officers during a patrol briefing on April 7.
Deputy Shannon Bennett was a 12-year
veteran of the Broward Sheriff's Office and a school resource officer
at Deerfield Beach Elementary School.
Bennett died of complications from
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, 10 days after
testing positive for the virus. He was 39.
Frey, fiance of Deputy Shannon Bennett, says Bennett's “legacy will
Engle attempted to minimize fears of
the virus by stating that Bennett's death was caused by his
“homosexual” lifestyle, the Miami
Town administrators said that Engle had
been placed on administrative leave “pending further review of
The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order
of Police Labor Council Committee criticized Engle's comments in a
letter to town administrators.
“He intimated that it was because of
the homosexual lifestyle that Deputy Bennett first contracted a
serious underlying disease which aggravated the Covid-19 virus and
led to his death,” the letter reads.
Michael Tucker, chief of staff for the
Fraternal Order of Police, said that officers had asked Engle
questions about their health insurance as it relates to COVID-19.
“Really utter shock that the chief
would attempt to minimize the risk to everyone and especially first
responders by trying to draw a link between what happened to Deputy
Bennett tragically and his sexual orientation,” Tucker said.
In an email to officers, Engle said
that his comments were “taken out of context” and that they were
“not intended to be derogatory” but informative.
As of Sunday, Florida was reporting
19,347 cases of COVID-19 with 452 deaths. While the state has been
testing more aggressively for the virus than some states, Republican
Governor Ron DeSantis waited until March 24 to order people to
shelter in place, 12 days after similar lockdowns were imposed on
residents in California, Illinois, and New York.