An unarmed behavioral therapist says he was shot by police in North Miami while lying on the ground with his arms up and trying to help his autistic patient, who had run away from a group home.
Charles Kinsey, 47, was shot once in the leg and is recovering in the hospital, he told WSVN-TV.
He was next to his 23-year-old patient, who was playing with a toy truck while sitting cross-legged in the middle of the road, a video of the moments before the shooting shows. You can watch the video above.
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.
Police had responded to the area near Northeast 14th Avenue and Northeast 127th Street for a report of an armed man threatening suicide about 5 p.m. on July 18, WPLG-TV reports
But Kinsey says the “armed man” was his confused patient, who was holding a toy truck, not 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 to the officers before he was shot.
He told WSVN he asked the officer why he shot him, and the officer replied, “I don’t know.”
Kinsey said he was more concerned about his patient.
“I was thinking as long as I have my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me,” Kinsey told the news station. “This is what I’m thinking, ‘they’re not going to shoot me.’ Wow, was I wrong.”
The officer involved in the shooting, Jonathan Aledda, 30, has been placed on administrative leave. The shooting itself was not caught on the cell phone camera.
Here’s what you need to know about Kinsey and the shooting:
1. Kinsey Says He Asked the Officers Not to Shoot Him Before 1 of the Officers Fired 3 Times
Charles Kinsey told the officers he and the autistic patient were not armed, and asked them not to shoot them. The officers were armed with rifles.
“When I went to the ground, I’m going to the ground just like this here with my hands up,” Kinsey said told WSVN-TV, raising his arms while in his hospital bed. “And I am laying down here just like this, and I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.’”
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.
Police later said they had eyewitnesses telling them there was a gun at the scene, and a 911 caller also saying that. But no gun was found.
Kinsey told the news station the officer fired three times, hitting him once, in the leg.
“I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” said Kinsey. “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.”
At a Thursday press conference the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association said the officer was 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.”
Rivera said the officer couldn’t hear what Kinsey was saying.
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.
You can watch the full press conference below:
“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.”
Read more about Charles Kinsey in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com:
2. He Was Handcuffed While Bleeding in the Street After the Shooting
Kinsey told WSVN-TV that that after he was shot he was handcuffed and left bleeding in the street.
“They flipped me over, and I’m faced down in the ground, with cuffs on, waiting on the rescue squad to come,” Kinsey told the news station. “I’d say about 20, about 20 minutes it took the rescue squad to get there. And I was like, bleeding — I mean bleeding and I was like, ‘Wow.’”
He said his life flashed before his eyes when he was shot, and he thought about his family. His wife was at his bedside Wednesday.
“Right now, I am just grateful that he is alive, and he is able to tell his story,” she told WSVN.
According to the Miami Herald, Kinsey is likely to be released from the hospital Thursday and is expected to fully recover.
The Dade County Police Benevolent Association said at a press conference that they wish the best for Kinsey and the officer involved in the shooting is praying for his “speedy recovery.”
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.”
3. His Attorney Says He Is Trying to Work Out a Settlement With the City
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.”
Napoleon told WPLG-TV the family wants the officer to be punished.
In an interview with WTVJ-TV, Napoleon said he thinks the shooting was accidental, because his client was shot in the leg. He said if the officer thought Kinsey was a threat, he would’ve been shot in the head or chest.
“I can’t say that it did in this case specifically, but it leads you to wonder that had those things not happened, had the police not been ambushed in those parts and had they not been on heightened alert, would they have come out with assault rifles and accidentally, I don’t know if it was intentional or accidental, shot an individual who’s laying on the ground with his hands up,” Napoleon said. “He was on the ground, he was laying on the ground with his hands up and he got shot in the leg.”
4. Kinsey Has Worked at the Group Home Where the Patient Lives for More Than a Year
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.
Kinsey previously worked at the EDC Academy of Excellence, a private school in Miami.
5. The Unnamed Officer Has Been Placed on Administrative Leave as the Shooting Is Investigated by Police & the State’s Attorney
The officer involved in the shooting, Jonathan Aledda, has been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy.
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.”
U.S. Rep. Francisca Wilson also spoke at the press conference, which was held a day after the video was released and as the story went viral, with #CharlesKinsey trending nationwide on Twitter and “North Miami” trending on Facebook.
“This is not supposed to be happening in North Miami,” Wilson said. “North Miami is a city where the police officers and the community jive. So many of our police officers come from the community, live in the community, work in the community.”
The Miami-Dade State’s Attorney’s office is also involved in the investigation, officials say.
Police have asked any witnesses to the shooting to come forward.
It is not clear if any other video of the shooting exists.
Read more about Aledda at the link below: