DAVIE, FL – NOVEMBER 09: Davie Police Maj. Dale Engle speaks to the media about the fatal shooting that occured during a Craigslist transaction for an iPhone on November 9, 2017 in Davie, Florida. The fatal shooting happened on November 1st when 20-year-old Andre Smith and 38-year-old Matthew Barry had an altercation during a meeting for a sale of an iphone that Andre Smith had placed on Craigslist. Barry was detained for questioning but then released. Police have said it is too soon to say whether the case could apply to Florida’s “stand your ground” law. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Police Chief on Leave After Allegedly Attributing Gay Officer’s COVID-19 to ‘Homosexual Sexual Events’

Even in the midst of a pandemic, Florida stays finding new ways to be trash. You would think the death of a police officer would inspire a certain level of respect but uh, nah.

CBS News reports that Davie, Fl., Police Chief Dale Engle has been put on leave after the Fraternal Order of Police alleged that Engle attributed Deputy Shannon Bennett’s COVID-19 death to being a “homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events.”

From CBS News:

The union said in a letter, which was obtained by CBS Miami, that Engle “allegedly yelled about a ‘backstory’ which proclaimed that Deputy Bennett contracted and died from the virus because he was a ‘homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events.’”

“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 lead to his death,” the letter continued.

This came despite the fact Bennett was in relatively good health and didn’t have any underlying conditions. Mike Tucker, chief of staff for the Fraternal Order of Police, said that the comments made several officers afraid to come forward. Engle sent an email to staff, saying “My intent was to provide as much information to personnel as possible. If my comments were taken out of context, they were not intended to be derogatory.”

As the pandemic continues, more first responders are expected to contract the virus in the line of duty. Engle’s response shows both a callous disregard for the safety of his officers and a lack of respect for a fellow officer who lost his life. It also goes to show how little respect the lives of gay, brown men garner even if they’re on the police force.

Bennett was a 12-year veteran of the force and was set to marry his fiancé later this year. After the Pulse nightclub shootings in 2016, Bennett parked his cruiser outside LGBTQ bars to assure patrons of their safety. He was adamant in helping build trust between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement.

– Joe Jurado

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