North Miami Cop Shoots Unarmed Black Man With Hands in Air Trying to Help Autistic Patient

Update 1 p.m.: In a brief press conference, North Miami PD declined to name the officer in the shooting and offered no updates on the shooting. Chief Gary Eugene said that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would take over the investigation.

Update 3:30 p.m.: Miami Dade Police Benevolent Union president John Rivera says the officer fired because he felt threatened by the autistic man; he missed, and hit Kinsey instead.  

America has been roiled this month by questionable police shootings caught on camera in Minnesota and Louisiana. Now Miami has its own baffling case caught on video. 

A North Miami cop Monday night shot a man named Charles Kinsey. Last night, cell-phone video was released of the incident leading up to the shooting — and it clearly shows Kinsey lying prone on the ground with his hands in the air, begging officers not to shoot.

In the video, Kinsey can be heard pleading with officers that they've misunderstood the situation. North Miami cops were called to the area after someone reported a man with a gun — but in fact, that man was Kinsey's patient, an autistic man carrying a toy truck. 

"I am a behavior tech at the group home," Kinsey yells while lying on the ground, his hands in the air. "That's all it is." 

Moments later, an officer shoots Kinsey in the leg. The shooting itself isn't captured on the video released last night, but Kinsey — speaking to Channel 7 from the hospital — says nothing happened to spark the gunfire. 

"I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know,'Kinsey tells the station.

Kinsey says he was handcuffed while bleeding heavily from the gunshot wound and left on the ground until an ambulance arrived. He's now recovering — but his attorney and local activist groups are calling for strong action from the North Miami Police Department. 

“There is no reason to fire your weapon at a man who has his hands up and is trying to help,” his attorney, Hilton Napoleon, tells the Washington Post

A community group called the Circle of Brotherhood, which Kinsey belongs to, held a rally last night outside North Miami PD's headquarters calling for a swift response from the police

NMPD has yet to identify the officer who fired at Kinsey. That officer has been placed on administrative duty while the shooting is investigated. 

Nationally, outrage has been quick this morning, with #CharlesKinsey trending on Twitter and many asking what more Kinsey could have done to avoid being shot. 

Update 2:30 pm: Community organizations have condemned Kinsey's shooting, including the ACLU and the 100 Black Men of South Florida. 

“We have to stem the tide of violence, both nationwide and here in Florida. It starts with holding people accountable for their actions," says ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon. "There must be a thorough and independent investigation into this shooting that covers both whether officers violated internal use of deadly force policies and whether criminal charges should be brought."

Both the ACLU and the 100 Black Men of Florida called for a policy review among local police agencies when it comes to use of force. 

" While protests of anger and hurt are understandable, it is now time that we put forward meaningful answers and solutions aimed at rebuilding the community’s trust in its police," says Stephen Hunter Johnson, president of the 100 Black Men of Florida, a youth mentoring organization.

Johnson's group also called for more recruitment of black officers, better community engagement from officers on the street and solutions for violent crime in black neighborhoods.

Simon echoed his calls for policy changes.  

“The North Miami Police, and all local law enforcement agencies, must examine their policies when it comes to use of force and how best to respond to members of the public who have mental health issues," Simon says. "Great strides have been made in recent years in developing policies that help police de-escalate potentially volatile situations and bring them to an end without violence. None of them seem to have been utilized in this situation by the North Miami Police.”


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