After nearly three years, Charles Kinsey has finally gotten some semblance of justice after being shot by a North Miami Police officer in July 2016. Kinsey's case shocked the world: A bystander filmed as Kinsey lay flat on his back with his arms in the air and begged cops not to shoot. Kinsey shouted that the man next to him, Arnaldo Rios Soto, was autistic and playing with a toy truck.
SWAT officer Jonathan Aledda, who claims he thought Rios Soto had a gun, fired anyway. Thankfully, the bullet only hit Kinsey in the leg.
Kinsey and Rios Soto are both still suing the North Miami Police Department. But this week, Aledda was finally convicted of one count of culpable negligence related to the shooting. Aledda is now the first cop in Miami-Dade County since 1989 to be convicted for an on-duty shooting. Here's a timeline of how the case unfolded:
1. Kinsey is shot in July 2016:
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.
2. Miami-Dade County's Police Benevolent Association union defends Aledda by admitting he was actually trying to shoot Rios Soto:
National condemnation has been swift today after video showed Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black behavioral tech trying to help an autistic patient, holding his arms in the air before a North Miami Police officer shoots him. But Miami's two most prominent police union chiefs have now leaped to the officer's defense.
John Rivera, who leads the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, says the officer was actually trying to protect Kinsey because he believed the autistic man, who was holding a toy truck, had a gun — but then he accidentally shot Kinsey instead. Both Rivera and Javier Ortiz, head of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, then slammed news stories of the shooting as "sensationalism."
"Be responsible in your reporting," Rivera told reporters earlier today. "We're asking the community to please allow facts — not sensationalism, not politics — facts to allow to work their way through the system."
3. Kinsey sues North Miami:
In the vast majority of controversial shootings by police, the victims have not lived to tell their side of the story. Thankfully, Charles Kinsey survived after getting shot by North Miami SWAT Officer Jonathan Aledda in July. Now Kinsey will tell his side of the story in court.
Yesterday Kinsey filed a lawsuit against Aledda in federal court for excessive force, false arrest, and violating his civil rights.
"Officer Aledda violated Mr. Kinsey's clearly established Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force during police seizures when he shot Mr. Kinsey in the leg," the complaint says.
Before getting shot July 18, Kinsey was seen in a cell-phone video lying on his back with his hands in the air, begging cops not to shoot him. Kinsey, a behavior technician at the Miami Achievement Center for the Developmentally Disabled, had been trying to help a 26-year-old autistic man, Arnaldo Rios, who'd left the center. Rios had been holding a toy truck while walking through the streets of North Miami, which prompted a 911 caller to alert North Miami Police that Rios had possibly been walking around with a gun.
After he and other officers surrounded the two, Aledda eventually fired. Though there is no video evidence showing the moment he was shot, Kinsey maintains that after Aledda fired his rifle, he asked the cop why he shot him.
"I don't know," Kinsey says the cop responded.
4. New Times obtains audio showing cops knew the "gun" was a toy before Aledda shot:
Moments before North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda shot unarmed behavioral technician Charles Kinsey last July 18, another cop on the scene warned there was no gun, only a toy.
After the shooting, an assistant chief repeatedly lied to the police chief, and City Manager Larry Spring ignored vital evidence.
Moreover, the crime scene was mismanaged, and the police department and city government were in disarray and plagued by infighting.
Those are among the stunning revelations in an hourlong audio recording of North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene's interview with Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigators, which was obtained by New Times Tuesday.
The shooting of Kinsey, who was caring for an autistic man, became a national flash point in the Black Lives Matter movement thanks to cell-phone footage that showed him with his arms in the air while, lying on the ground, and begging police not to shoot just before he was hit in the leg.
5. State prosecutors charge Aledda with attempted manslaughter and culpable negligence:
Miami-Dade's top prosecutor, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, has recently faced a tidal wave of criticism from police-reform activists for her reluctance to prosecute cops who kill on the job. Today, Rundle did something she's never done in her 24 years in office: charged an officer for an on-duty shooting.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced it has charged North Miami SWAT Officer Jonathan Aledda with felony attempted manslaughter and misdemeanor culpable negligence after Aledda shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man, in July 2016. Kinsey was simply trying to help an autistic man, Arnaldo Rios-Soto, out of the street when a bystander called 911 and said Rios-Soto might have been holding a gun. Rios-Soto was, in fact, holding a toy truck when Aledda fired his weapon.
A cell-phone video caught Kinsey lying on his back with his arms in the air, repeatedly stressing he was complying with cops, and begging officers not to shoot just before he was hit.
"These charges are the result of a lengthy inquiry which included a prosecutorial review of the police investigation, numerous police and prosecutor meetings to review case evidence, site re-enactments, and the taking of additional statements of police witnesses after the completion of the FDLE investigation," a news release from Rundle's office reads. Aledda's bond is set at $6,000, according to his arrest warrant.
6. Then-NMPD Chief Gary Eugene is fired:
The North Miami Police Department is in a state of disarray. One of its officers, Jonathan Aledda, recently became the first Miami-area cop in 24 years to be charged for an on-duty shooting after Aledda's gunfire hit Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black behavioral therapist, in the leg while he was trying to help an autistic man.7. Arnaldo Rios Soto also sues.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Police Chief Gary Eugene told the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that his department was disorganized, plagued by infighting, and unable to handle basic things like securing the crime-scene after Kinsey was shot. He also claimed that cops tried to force a commander to lie to protect Aledda, and had attempted to frame a fellow commander, Emile Hollant, by pretending he'd lied to chief about what he'd witnessed.
Now, City Councilman Scott Galvin has confirmed to New Times that Eugene has been placed on administrative leave and will be fired in three weeks, on July 7. Eugene had earlier confirmed to New Times that City Manager Larry Spring had asked him to step down today, but did not offer any more details.
"It was an offer," Eugene said via phone today, audibly groaning when asked whether he'd been fired outright. "I cannot talk about it more than that." A police spokesperson declined to comment, and a city spokesperson did not answer a call from New Times. City Manager Larry Spring also did not immediately answer a call today. Eugene said he was discussing the ordeal with his lawyer.
Via the Miami Herald:
Arnaldo Rios, a severely autistic 27-year-old with an IQ of 40, sat handcuffed on the ground for 20 minutes after a police officer shot his unarmed caretaker. Still in handcuffs, Rios was placed in the back of a patrol car for about two more hours.
Rios’ caretaker was shot as he lay on his back with his arms raised while his patient sat beside him in the middle of the road playing with a shiny toy truck. The officer said he thought the toy was a gun and that he was aiming at Rios — but missed.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court Monday, Rios’ family claims a bystander near the police vehicle where Rios was held heard “animalistic sounds and screeching noises” coming from inside.
Then, according to the lawsuit, Rios, whose communication skills are mainly limited to saying “yes,” echoing what others say and repeating quotes from from his favorite movies, was taken to the North Miami police station. There, he sat with his hands handcuffed behind his back for another four minutes as an officer interrogated him.
His family said police wouldn’t allow anyone to accompany Rios during the interview. A video obtained by the Miami Herald shows Rios responding to questions in a high-pitched voice that family members say he only uses when stressed. Clearly confused, Rios answered “yes” to almost every question.
At one point he stood, turned and indicated to the officer he wanted the handcuffs removed from his wrists. Finally, the officer, getting nowhere, released Rios.
8. Aledda's first trial ends with a hung jury:
A Florida jury today acquitted North Miami SWAT Officer Jonathan Aledda on one count of culpable negligence after he shot a behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, in the leg in 2016. Kinsey was trying to help an unarmed man with autism, Arnaldo Rios Soto, out of an intersection. Rios Soto was holding a silver toy truck, which Aledda claimed was a gun. Kinsey was filmed lying on the ground, placing his hands in the air, and begging cops not to shoot him.
Aledda was charged with four crimes in 2017: two counts of felony attempted manslaughter and two counts of misdemeanor culpable negligence. The jury today reportedly acquitted Aledda of culpable negligence for firing at Rios Soto but could not reach a verdict on the other three charges.
Despite the fact that Kinsey was filmed screaming the supposed gun was a toy, Aledda still pulled the trigger. The case became national news — civil rights activists noted Kinsey did everything possible to avoid getting shot and followed virtually every order the police shouted before Aledda pumped bullets into his leg.
In court this week, Aledda argued he was actually aiming at Rios Soto, the man with autism. The officer believed Rios Soto was holding Kinsey hostage with a gun. Aledda also claimed he did not hear police radio transmissions telling officers on the scene not to fire their weapons.
9. Aledda is finally convicted of culpable negligence:
A jury late last night convicted North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda of one misdemeanor count of culpable negligence after he shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed behavioral therapist who was filmed begging cops not to shoot him, in the leg in 2016. The jury acquitted Aledda of two more serious felony charges of attempted manslaughter, according to the Miami Herald.
This was Aledda's second trial in the case. Earlier this year, a jury acquitted him of one negligence charge but was deadlocked on the other three, leading to a mistrial. Aledda then rejected a plea deal and pushed for a second trial.
Aledda is now the first cop in Miami-Dade County convicted for an on-duty shooting since 1989. And he's the first convicted under State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who has been in office since 1993 but had previously never charged an officer for an on-duty shooting. (Rundle has long been accused of going light on problem cops.) Aledda is the second South Florida officer convicted this year for a shooting: In March, former Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja was convicted of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder after he fatally shot motorist Corey Jones in October 2015.