A behavioral therapist trying to help his autistic patient was shot by police while lying on the ground with his arms raised in the air. A video recorded on a cell phone, which you can watch above, shows the moments before the shooting in North Miami, Florida.
The head of the police union told the Miami Herald the officer thought Kinsey was in danger and was aiming at the autistic patient, and missed. The autistic man was not armed, and was holding a toy truck while sitting cross-legged in the middle of the road as his therapist was down on the ground next to him.
The shooting remains under investigation. The officer, Jonathan Aledda, 30, has been placed on administrative leave. No weapons were found at the scene, police said.
Kinsey’s attorney, Harold Napoleon, also provided the full video to the Herald. You can watch it below:
The shooting itself was not caught on the cell phone camera.
North Miami Police say they responded to the area of Northeast 14th Avenue and Northeast 127th Street about 5 p.m. on July 18 for a report of an armed man threatening suicide, WPLG-TV reports
Kinsey, 47, told WSVN the “armed man” was his 23-year-old autistic patient, who had run away from a nearby mental health center, where Kinsey works, and was confused.
In the video Kinsey can be heard trying to tell the officers that his patient wasn’t holding a gun.
“All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavioral therapist at a group home,” Kinsey can be heard saying.
He is also heard in the video trying to calm down the patient, Rinaldo, asking him to stop moving and to get onto his stomach. Kinsey told WSVN he was more afraid police would shoot the autistic man.
Kinsey told the news station that after a few minutes, one of the officers shot him in the leg. The officer fired three times, hitting Kinsey once.
“I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” said Kinsey, who had his arms raised in the air while talking to a WSVN reporter from his hospital bed Wednesday. “I thought it was a mosquito bite, and when it hit me I had my hands in the air, and I’m thinking I just got shot! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know.’”
Kinsey said that after he was shot he was handcuffed and left bleeding in the street.
North Miami Police issued a statement about the shooting:
There is preliminary information that North Miami Police Officers were dispatched to the scene after a 911 call was received of an armed male suspect threatening suicide. Arriving officers attempted to negotiate with two men on the scene, one of whom was later identified as suffering from autism. The other man was later identified as an employee of an assisted living facility. At some point during the on-scene negotiation, one of the responding officers discharged his weapon, striking the employee.
North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said at a press conference Thursday he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to lead an independent investigation.
“I realize there are many questions about what happened Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city and I personally have questions,” Eugene told reporters. “I assure you we will get all the answers.”
At a Thursday press conference the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association said the officer is a member of the SWAT team. PBA President John Rivera told reporters the officers were trying to help Kinsey:
There was a call about a suicidal man with a gun, the officers already heard that. When they arrived they saw two men, Mr. Kinsey and the other individual, the white male, and it appeared to the officers that the white male was trying to do harm to Mr. Kinsey. The officers, realizing and believing that there was a firearm, and many officers thought the white male had a firearm, only much later when we were able to Monday morning quarterback do we find out it was a toy. Only much later do we find out that the individual was autistic. The officers on the scene did not know that. And fearing for Mr. Kinsey’s life, the officer discharged his firearm, trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life. And he missed, and accidentally struck Mr. Kinsey. He thought the white male and his actions were such that he felt Mr. Kinsey’s life was in danger.
Rivera also said the video from the scene “is being portrayed poorly.”
He said “many in the media are saying you can clearly hear Mr. Kinsey. Well if you can clearly hear Mr. Kinsey, why does every news outlet have to put subtitles. You can’t clearly hear Mr. Kinsey.”
He also said the person who filmed the incident did so at a different vantage point and from much closer than where the officers were.
“Folks, being a police officer has always been difficult. And lately, it’s been more difficult, and more challenging,” Rivera said. “Sometimes police officers do wrong and we let the system work. And sometimes police officers do right and we still crucify them. And then sometimes police officers make mistakes, because at the end of the day, they’re not computers, they’re not robots, they are God’s creation and they make mistakes.”
The police union head also read a statement from the officer, in which he said, “I took this job to save lives and help people. I did what I had to do in a split-second to accomplish that. And hate to hear others paint me as something I am not.”
Kinsey’s attorney, Hilton Napoleon, told the Miami Herald he is in settlement talks with the city.
“They realize this was something inappropriate regarding the shooting,” Napoleon said. “If police departments come out more and admit fault, that would probably go a long way.”
Kinsey has worked as a behavioral therapist at the MacTown Panther Group Homes for more than a year, his attorney told the Miami Herald.
He went to Miami Northwestern High School and Miami-Dade College, according to his Facebook page.
Read more about Charles Kinsey in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: