Last week, we shared the tragic news of the COVID-19 death of Florida police officer Shannon Bennett. Deputy Bennett, 39, who was gay and due to marry his fiancé, Jonathan Frey, later this year, was a widely respected and much-loved officer with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Despite having no underlying health conditions, he came down with a fever and headaches and then experienced shortness of breath.
Related: Gay police officer who proposed to his fiance in December died suddenly of coronavirus
A couple of days after going to hospital, he died on April 3. Bennett is believed to be the first Florida police officer to die from the disease. Many of his colleagues took to social media to praise him and express their devastation at his passing.
It appears one of his colleagues may have been less sympathetic.
In the wake of Bennett’s death, police officers in nearby Davie (a small town also in Broward County), brought up the issue of safety protocols and protective equipment with their Police Chief, Dale Engle.
Engle’s reaction? He allegedly marched them outside to the back parking lot, had them line up, and then began to berate them over their concerns, saying there was a “backstory” to Bennett’s death not being talked about.
Mike Tucker, Florida chief of staff for cop union the Fraternal Order of Police chief, wrote a letter last Tuesday to the Davie Town Administrator, Richard J Lemack, complaining about Engle’s comments. He says that during the briefing, Engle had linked Bennett’s death to the fact he was a, “‘homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events’.”
Tucker says Engle’s rant continued for some time.
“This obviously was shocking to the members that were present, who are right now looking for reassurance. . . who were looking for guidance,” said Tucker.
On Saturday night, Lemack issued a statement, saying Engle had been placed on leave pending an investigation.
“As of April 11, 2020, Police Chief Dale Engle was placed on Administrative leave pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police. The allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town’s Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel. The Town will have no further comment until the investigation is completed to protect the integrity of all involved.”
Bennett’s partner, Frey, told Local10, “The Chief’s alleged comments are completely false, homophobic, and slanderous. I look forward to the fair and impartial investigation initiated by the Town Manager, and I hope that appropriate action will be taken at its conclusion.”
The National Fraternal Order of Police said in a tweet: “If these allegations are true, the disgusting insinuation made by Chief Engle is not becoming of the badge he wears. He should be stripped of his rank for making such divisive comments that do not reflect the inclusive values of America’s law enforcement.”
Engle has not commented on the allegations.
Related: Antigay minister Tony Spell claims “True Christians don’t mind dying” of COVID-19
Bennett had been an officer for 12 years. Following the Pulse shooting in Orlando in 2016, he had made a point of parking his police car outside LGBTQ venues in Wilton Manors so that patrons might feel a little safer.
Before his death, he was Deerfield Beech Elementary School resource officer and was reportedly a much-loved figure at the school.
Florida and Broward County. That’s all you need to know. Can’t the USA divorce her already?
With Trump supporters it isn’t about protecting Americans, it’s only about the hate.
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
I am absolutely gobsmacked that repugnant reprehensible filthy puddle of puke was actually suspended….
Remember folks, this IS FLORIDA we are talking bout here. Usual trajectory of a story about a homophobic smcubag in an official capacity is that Gay media would report it and there would not even be a tepid reprimand…
Stripped of his rank? Yeah, let’s take a bar away from him. That’ll teach him. Lol
Lets just replace gay with Black or Hispanic. You know they’d be calling for him to be fired. He’s also proven as a public servant that he can’t be unbiased and won’t serve all the public fairly.
Shannon Bennett was mixed race/Black. So the Engle creep probably didn’t even realize this, but either way, whether anti-gay or racist, it’s unacceptable and disgusting.
When bigoted reprobates like him are come crawling out of the dirt they should be exposed for all to see. Will it change their hearts? Probably not, but it will remind them to keep their f**cking bigoted comments to themselves.
Homophobes are terrified people will know they have gay feelings. They also think these feelings are wrong. Follow societies rules. You can only have a bromance. HANDS OFF (in public).
Perhaps Engle knows of such “homosexual sexual events” because he was present? Whether such “events” were attended is irrelevant with no context, such as during a social distance guideline. Unfortunately, the partner felt compelled to address the accusation instead of the relevancy of the accusation.
I’ll hold my tongue until the investigation is complete.
I won’t hold my tongue. That Police Chief should be suspended without pay and made to take a course in sensitivity!
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