The officers involved in the shooting of Charles Kinsey — an unarmed black behavioral technician shot in the leg last week while trying to aid a 23-year-old autistic man — currently sit on administrative leave while state officials investigate the shooting. One high-ranking officer, Commander Emile Hollant, was suspended without pay for giving false statements to police investigators.
But as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts its investigation, thousands of civilians across the nation want a faster solution: They demand that North Miami Police fire the cops involved.
More than 30,000 people have already signed at least three petitions calling for the officers involved in the case to be terminated. In addition to Hollant, Jonathan Aledda, a 30-year-old SWAT team member with four years on the job, is on leave. Aledda fired the shot that hit Kinsey.
A cell-phone video shows Kinsey lying on his back and cooperating with authorities moments before he was shot. Though the video does not show the shooting itself, Kinsey says that he asked Aledda why he fired his gun and that Aledda said, "I don't know." The union representing Aledda says the officer was actually aiming for the autistic man, who was holding a toy truck believed to have been a gun.
A "Justice for Charles Kinsey" petition on the website Care2.com has already garnered 26,804 supporters. The petition demands the U.S. Department of Justice prosecute Aledda for his actions.
"Yet another unarmed Black man has been shot for no reason — and again, there is video to prove it," the page says. It goes on: "Well, I don't know about you, but I really don't think a police officer this trigger happy should be able to walk away from this without a trial. This crime exposes weaknesses in training in dealing with the mentally challenged as well as police instigated racial violence."
At MoveOn.org, 3,051 people have signed a petition demanding Aledda's firing. That petition says:
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"For too long, the police officers who shoot and attack Black men and woman have failed to be held responsible for their crimes. If the investigation confirms the facts that have been reported, the police officer who shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed Florida therapist, must be fired and barred from working in the police department ever again.
Additionally, the website ColorofChange.org, formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to amplify the voices of black voters, has circulated its own petition as well. When the signing period is up, Color of Change plans to send the following letter to North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene.
Dear Gary Eugene:
I am writing to demand that you take all steps to hold Officer Jonathan Aledda and Commander Emile Hollant accountable and fire them for the shooting of Charles Kinsey, an unarmed man.
While suspending Commander Hollant without pay is a step in the right direction, his actions in not only spreading misinformation but also lying to cover himself are unacceptable. He should not continue to remain on the force.
When it comes to Officer Aledda, although he was given misinformation from Commander Hollant, he had a responsibility to assess the situation and de-escalate. Instead he shot at two unarmed men while one was telling him everything he needed to know to make the right decision.
While the Florida Police Benevolent Association claims Aledda made a mistake in shooting Kinsey and that he was aiming to protect him, his actions do not fit those claims. Aledda never told Mr. Kinsey to move out of the way or warned that he was going to fire in his direction. And after shooting him, supposedly by accident, Aledda rolled Kinsey over and handcuffed him while he was bleeding.
The people of North Miami are counting on you to hold these officers accountable, and ensure they can never endanger another citizen again.
Eugene did not respond to a call from New Times. We've also asked multiple City of North Miami spokespeople whether police will consider the petitions during their investigation.