A woman who answered Engle’s phone said he was not available to comment.
Florida Fraternal Order of Police chief of staff Mike Tucker wrote the letter to Davie town administrator Richard Lemack based on reports from members of the Davie Police Department.
Tucker wrote that the trouble began after officers asked Engle about the department’s safety protocol during the pandemic.
In response, Tucker said, Engle “belittled” them during a patrol briefing and ordered them to stand in formation, “like cadets back in the police academy.” Then, Tucker said, he yelled at the members for raising “baseless” concerns about the virus.
That’s when he began to make derogatory remarks about Deputy Bennett, Tucker said.
Tucker said members of the Davie Police Department told him that Engle said something about Bennett’s “backstory” and insinuated that Bennett contracted and died from coronavirus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual events.”
“The reported inference was 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 to his death,” Tucker wrote in the letter.
Later, Tucker said, Engle attempted to “walk back some of his comments” about Bennett in an email to the department. Engle told officers to contact him directly with concerns, “something intimidated subordinates would obviously not do, especially in the wake of this incident,” Tucker wrote.
Fiancé: Bennett had no underlying conditions before Covid-19 diagnosis
Bennett, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, was a school resource officer who was engaged to marry Jonathan Frey later this year. The Broward Sheriff’s Office described him as an “out and proud gay law enforcement deputy” who protected and mentored the students he worked with.
“This is not the end of who he is,” Frey said. “I care very much about him. He was the love of my life and I know his legacy is going to live on, one way or another. But he was a beautiful soul.”
CNN’s Alta Spells and Pamela Wessmann contributed to this report.