Police chief forced to take paid leave after claiming that colleague 'died of COVID-19 because he was gay'

It's alleged that the Police Chief in Davie, Florida, said that deputy sheriff Shannon Bennett died from the virus because he was a “homosexual."

Police Chief
Image: Davie Police Dept

Dale Engle, a police chief in Davie, Florida, has been put on paid leave after he allegedly claimed a deputy died of COVID-19 because he was gay.

Engle reportedly suggested that 39 year-old Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy, Shannon Bennett, “contracted and died from the virus because he was a ‘homosexual who attended homosexual events.’”

This was alleged in a letter sent to town officials by Chief of Staff for Florida’s Fraternal Order of Police, Mike Tucker, and was initially obtained by The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The letter stated that multiple officers had expressed fears over the outbreak following Bennett’s death and were “belittled” by Engle who allegedly took the officers to a parking lot during a patrol briefing.

It’s alleged that Engle began shouting at them saying their concerns were “baseless”.

Detailing this ordeal, the letter states:

“During this, members were shocked when Chief Engle cited the tragic death of (Broward County Sheriff’s Office) Deputy Shannan Bennet who recently succumbed to the COVID-19 virus,” Tucker wrote.

“Chief 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 events.”

The letter then says that Engle suggested that Bennet’s “homosexual lifestyle” was the reason he contracted COVID-19.

“His rant continued for some time with the presumable desired effect of intimidating the members and discouraging any other department employees from complaining or expressing concerns in the future,” Tucker wrote.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Bennett had asthma and died of COVID-19 on April 3.

Police Chief
Shannon Bennett (left) with his partner, Jonathan Frey.

Its also reported that he planned to marry his partner, Jonathan Frey, in December.

Frey told WPLG: “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 take at its conclusion.”

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