A Florida police chief has been suspended after allegedly claiming that the coronavirus-related death of a county sheriff’s deputy was caused by the officer's sexuality

According to HuffPost, Davie, Florida Town Administrator, Richard J. Lemack, released a statement on Saturday explaining that Dale Engle was placed on paid 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 statement reads. 

The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police posted a copy of a complaint addressed to Lemack on it's Facebook page.


The complaint was written by Chief of Staff Mike Tucker and detailed Engle's "unacceptable" antics during last week's patrol meeting. Engle reportedly "belittled" and "berated" officers for their coronavirus concerns. He allegedly claimed that their reservations about the virus are "baseless." He then went on to address the death of Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Shannon Bennett.

"Chief Engle allegedly yelled about a 'backstory' which proclaimed that Deputy Shannon Bennett contracted and died from the virus because he was a 'homosexual who attended homosexual events,'" the complaint states. "He intimated that it was because of this homosexual lifestyle that Deputy Bennett first contracted a serious underlying disease which aggravated the COVID-19 virus and lead (sic) to his death."

The 39-year-old Bennett died on April 3 from complications caused by COVID-19. Bennett was a 12-year veteran who fell ill in late March. He was admitted to a local hospital where he tested positive for the coronavirus prior to his death. 

On Sunday, The Miami Herald obtained an email sent by Engle to his department in which he tried to explain the intent behind his comments. 

"My intent was to provide as much information to personnel as possible," he wrote. "If my comments were taken out of context, they were not intended to be derogatory."

Yet, Bennett's fiancé Jonathan Frey referred to Engle's comments as "completely false, homophobic, and slanderous." The State Fraternal Order of Police is now calling for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the incident.

"If these allegations are true, the disgusting insinuation made by Chief Engle is not becoming of the badge he wears," The National Fraternal Order of Police tweeted on Monday. "He should be stripped of his rank for making such divisive comments that do not reflect the inclusive values of America’s law enforcement."

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