North Miami Cop Avoids Prison After Conviction for Shooting at Autistic Man

Former North Miami Police SWAT Officer Jonathan Aledda was convicted last month of one misdemeanor count of culpable negligence after he tried to shoot at an autistic man, Arnaldo Rios Soto, and instead shot Rios Soto's therapist, Charles Kinsey, in the leg in 2016.

Today, a judge handed Aledda his sentence — and while he faced up to a year behind bars, Aledda will officially serve no jail time. Instead, he will reportedly serve one year of probation, complete 100 hours of community service, and write a 2,500-word essay on police firearms techniques. According to the Miami Herald, state prosecutors had requested that Aledda serve at least 30 days in jail.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan S. Fine reportedly withheld adjudication in the case, which means Aledda's conviction for shooting an innocent person will not appear on his criminal record.
Perhaps more interesting than Aledda's sentence is that he very likely will get to remain a cop after he's served his (quite lenient) time. The Dade County Police Benevolent Association, Aledda's union, told reporters today it would fight to get him his job back.

Aledda's case generated massive outrage in Miami-Dade and across the country. Bystanders filmed videos showing Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air and begging cops not to open fire. He was filmed shouting that Rios Soto was holding a toy truck, rather than a gun. New Times later obtained audio showing cops had stated on police radios before the shooting that the "gun" was just a toy. Aledda testified in court that he did not hear his fellow cops tell him to hold his fire.

Aledda's first trial ended with a hung jury. But last month, a jury convicted him of the negligence charge while acquitting him of two more serious counts of felony attempted manslaughter. He was the first cop in Miami-Dade County convicted for an on-duty shooting since 1989, and only the second in Florida after ex-Palm Beach Gardens cop Nouman Raja was convicted this year of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who has held office since 1993 but had not charged a cop for an on-duty shooting until Aledda, released a statement today standing by her office's decision to prosecute.

"On June 18, 2019, a jury decided that the shooting of mental health therapist Charles Kinsey was not an error or an accident but a crime, and the jury convicted Officer Aledda of Culpable Negligence," she said. "Protecting all the residents of Miami-Dade is a duty assumed by every police officer every day. Policing can be a very dangerous job. However, this case indicates our community’s belief that, on a daily basis, thought and attention should be a part of every action undertaken."
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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.