A librarian participating in a citizen police academy has been killed during a "shoot-don't shoot" exercise. State authorities have launched an investigation into the incident, with the officer involved placed on leave.
A police officer in the US state of Florida fatally shot a woman during a "shoot-don't shoot" exercise at a citizens' police academy, Punta Gorda police Lieutenant Katie Heck said in a statement on Wednesday.
Some 35 civilians took part in the live scenario, according Police Chief Tom Lewis. However, Mary Knowlton, an elderly librarian, and another participant were selected to role-play in a scenario to simulate whether to use lethal force.
The victim was later transported to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where she was pronounced dead.
"I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event. If you pray, please pray for Mary's family, and for the officers and witnesses who were involved. Everyone involved in this accident is in a state of overwhelming shock and grief," Lewis said.
Lieutenant Heck said a local hospice would provide counseling for the witnesses at "no charge."
The police chief announced that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had launched an investigation into the incident. The local police were taking the necessary precautions to "not jeopardize" the investigation, he added.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the state investigation.
Gun ownership and usage has become a more tense topic than usual in the US in the backdrop of an increasingly heated election campaign and several high-profile cases in which police fatally shot unarmed people.