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.
After the shooting, Dade County Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera, who heads the union representing Aledda, claimed the officer was actually trying to hit Rios, the autistic man, to "protect" Kinsey. Rivera claimed Aledda simply missed.
In his lawsuit, Kinsey faulted North Miami Police for being too quick to whip out assault rifles and aim them at him.
"Several officers, including Officer Aledda, immediately retrieved assault rifles from the trunks of their cars and approached Mr. Kinsey in a military-style formation," the complaint reads.
Kinsey also maintains Aledda clearly heard him identify the object in Rios' hands as a toy truck.
"All officers, including Officer Aledda, were close enough in proximity to hear Mr. Kinsey's statements, and one officer even announced over the police radio, 'It's a toy truck, he's saying it's a toy truck,'" Kinsey's suit reads.
The complaint then says Aledda fired three shots at Kinsey without warning. One bullet struck Kinsey in the leg. Aledda then rolled Kinsey over and handcuffed him, and the complaint alleges that the cuffs were so tight they cut off circulation to one of his hands.
"It is important to note that, when Officer Aledda fired his weapon, neither Mr. Kinsey nor Mr. Rios had committed a crime, posed a threat toward any officer, civilian or each other; nor did Mr. Kinsey or Mr. Rios attempt to evade arrest," the complaint says.
This is a breaking story. This post will be updated.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.