Police chief suspended after claiming officer and ‘protector of the LGBT+ community’ died of coronavirus ‘because he was gay’

'Out and proud' gay police officer dies after battle with coronavirus

A Florida police chief who allegedly claimed that his deputy died from complications from coronavirus because he is a “homosexual who attended homosexual ‘sexual’ events” has been suspended.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy Shannon Bennett was 39 when died on April 3, just a week after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Davie police officer had left work on March 23, feeling unwell, and went to the hospital the following day where he was tested for coronavirus.

Bennett was a proudly out gay man who was due to marry his fiancé, Jonathan Frey, later this year. He is believed to be the first such line-of-duty death from COVID-19 in Florida.

However, Davie Police chief Dale Engle commented that Bennett contracted the virus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual ‘sexual’ events”, a complaint against the chief alleged, according to WLPG Local 10.

Police chief who allegedly said gay cop died of coronavirus because he attended ‘homosexual sexual events’ suspended. 

Florida Fraternal Order of Police chief of staff Mike Tucker issued the complaint Tuesday, alleging that Engle “berated” officers who expressed worry about coronavirus and yelled his “backstory” about how Bennett developed COVID-19.

“This obviously was shocking to the members that were present, who are right now looking for reassurance,” Tucker told the outlet, “who were looking for guidance.”

After the complaint, Engle was suspended from duty Saturday.

“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,” Davie’s Town Administrator Richard Lemack said in a statement Saturday night.

“The allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town’s Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel.”

Tucker added: “For any reference to be made to the tragic passing of one of our brothers at the Broward Sheriff’s Office is, if true, is absolutely not only unacceptable but is just shameful.

“And it’s not indicative of the professionals of the town of Davie that we know.”