A Florida police chief has found himself in hot water after saying a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy died from COVID-19 because he was gay.
Deputy Shannon Bennett became Florida’s first line-of-duty casualty after dying on April 3 from complications from the virus. While briefing his officers four days later, Davie Police Chief Dale Engle said Bennett contracted the virus because he was gay.
During the briefing, which occurred four days after Bennett’s death, officers asked about “safety protocols and protections. That’s when Engle “chose to instead retaliate against our members,” stated a letter from a police union to Davie Town Administrator Richard J. Lemack, a local TV station reported.
But that’s not all Engle did during the briefing, according to the letter. It alleges he also “berated them and yelled about a ‘… backstory’ which proclaimed that Deputy Shannon Bennett contracted coronavirus and died because he was a homosexual who attended “sexual events.”
The letter also states that Engle claimed Bennett suffered from a “serious underlying disease, which aggravated the COVID-19 virus” which led to his death.
Jonathan Frey, Bennett’s fiancé, told the TV station that the fallen deputy didn’t have any underlying health conditions. The couple had planned to marry in December.
“The chief’s alleged comments are completely false, homophobic, and slanderous,” Frey said in a statement. “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.”
Lemack said Engle has been placed on administrative leave pending a review of the allegations.