The North Miami police officer who shot and injured mental health worker Charles Kinsey July 18 was trying to protect him, a police official has alleged.
John Rivera, head of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association, said that the officer who fired the shot believed the autistic man Kinsey was caring for was about to pull a gun, according to media reports.
“This is a case where a police officer was trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life, and unfortunately his shot went astray,” Rivera said, according to WSVN.
This version of events does not appear to correspond with Kinsey’s recollection of the shooting. He said in an interview, reported by the Miami Herald, that he was handcuffed by police after being shot.
The autistic man, who has not been identified, was sitting on the ground with a toy truck when Kinsey was shot.
“I couldn’t allow this to continue for the community’s sake,” Rivera added, the Herald reported. “Folks, this is not what the rest of the nation is going through.”
On July 22, the officer was identified as Jonathan Aledda, who has been with the force for four years.
Another officer, Commander Emile Hollant, has been suspended without pay after providing conflicting testimony about Kinsey’s shooting, the Miami New Times reported.
Cell phone video viewed widely online showed Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands up, explaining to police that the autistic man did not have a gun and urging them not to shoot.
“Mr. Kinsey did everything right,” Rivera said.
“The movement of the white individual looked like he was getting ready to charge a firearm into Mr. Kinsey,” Rivera added, according to WSVN, “and the officer discharged, trying to strike and stop the white male, and unfortunately he missed.”
On July 21, Aledda released a statement.
“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’m not,” it stated.
Kinsey and his lawyer, Hilton Napoleon, remained shocked by the incident.
“I still get my hands in the air,” Kinsey told WSVN from the hospital, “and I said ‘I just got shot.’ I’m standing there like, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me was, ‘I don’t know’.”
Protesters gathered at the North Miami Police headquarters July 21 to demand that the officer be fired, charged and convicted.
Napoleon indicated that the city was seeking to agree with Kinsey on a settlement for damages.
“There’s no justification for shooting an unarmed person who’s talking to you and telling you that they don’t have a gun, and that they’re a mental health counselor,” Napoleon told WSVN.
The state attorney is now involved in investigating the shooting.