Miami police have identified the cop who misfired and wounded a black behavioral therapist while trying to shoot the man’s autistic patient.
North Miami city manager Larry M. Spring said Officer Jonathan Aledda is responsible for mistakenly shooting Charles Kinsey while the therapist rushed to the aid of his troubled patient.
Aledda, 30, a member of Miami’s SWAT unit who has served on the force for four years, was not initially identified because he was the target of death threats after cellphone video of the incident emerged, sources told ABC 10.
Aledda has already been placed on administrative leave but outraged protesters have demanded his firing and for criminal charges to be brought against the police officer.
Spring also revealed that a second police officer, Cmdr. Emile Hollant, has been suspended without pay for giving conflicting statements about the events surrounding the shooting.
The shooting sparked outrage across the country after the viral video showed Kinsey lying on his back with his arms in the air before being shot. Kinsey was trying to help a 23-year-old autistic man who had broken out of a group home where he worked.
His patient is seen on the video rocking back and forth next to Kinsey, clutching the toy Aledda believed was a weapon. The patient was not hurt.
“All he has is a toy truck, a toy truck,” Kinsey told the cop. “I am a behavior therapist at a group home,” he said.
Aledda fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg. In spite of claims that Kinsey was not the intended target, police handcuffed him while he lay wounded in the street.
Kinsey’s employer at the MacTown group home for the developmentally disabled, Clint Bower, praised the therapist for his skills in crisis intervention.
“This individual, he was caring for a person with some significant behavioral issues, and Charles was specifically chosen to work with this individual as his one-on-one staff because he’s that much of a skilled employee,” Bower in an interview with 7News. “He’s received extensive crisis intervention training. Unfortunately, our police department doesn’t seem to receive that same training. Charles is a hero to us here at MacTown and to all the community here in Miami,” he said.
“I was more worried about him (the patient) than myself,” Kinsey, 47, told WSVN-TV in Miami from his hospital bed.
Dade County Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera said Aledda’s intended target was the autistic man, whom he believed was going to hurt Kinsey.
Aledda and fellow officers were called to the scene as a 911 caller reported someone suicidal and potentially armed nearby.
“The movement of the white individual made it look like he was going to discharge a firearm into Mr. Kinsey and the officer discharged trying to strike and stop the white man and unfortunately, he missed the white male and shot Mr. Kinsey by accident,” Rivera said.
Aledda released a statement through police union officials in response to the outcry, saying he became a police officer “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,” he said.
The city of Miami has already reached out to Kinsey and his family to offer an undetermined settlement for the shooting.