Earlier this week, the North Miami Police Department set up a hotline to field calls from people about the July 18 police shooting of behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey. New Times listened to roughly 50 of the calls posted on the department's website, and not one showed support for the cops involved.
People were angry about Officer Jonathan Aledda, who allegedly fired the shot. They were saddened. And they were worried about their children being killed by law enforcement officers.
"Will the police stop killing us?" one woman pleaded. "Please stop killing us. He was there with his hands up and you still shot him."
A Maryland woman who said she plans to move to North Miami with her boyfriend in the next two months expressed concern. "We wanted to know what's being done about the shooting that occurred recently in the North Miami area and what kind of actions are being taken against the officer," she said. "I just don't want either of us to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or to be assumed to be doing anything wrong. It really makes a difference whether we'll be moving to the area."
Said another woman: "If you're scared of black people, don't be a police officer."
There were people frustrated about not being able to trust law enforcement to interact with them or to tell the truth after a shooting:
- "You know, I normally don't call police departments for any reason because I'm afraid of you. Thank you for letting me know that I can't come to Florida."
- "Nobody respects or likes cops anymore. All you people know how to do is shoot unarmed people."
- "What more do you guys want us to do? He laid on the ground with his arms in the sky, laid on his back, and still got shot. I have a sneaking suspicion if he was Caucasian he would not have been shot, but that's just my opinion."
- "You guys like to pull up a record of an innocent person to try to justify why you shot somebody. You can't do it this time. It was a therapist."
There were people who were pissed they had to leave a message instead of being able to talk to a real, live human:
- "Y'all put this number — you can't even answer the phone? Y'all ain't doing nothing, man."
- "How could they give us a number to a community concern hotline and we're only getting a recording? I don't understand."
There was a collective WTF to the suggestion that Aledda meant to shoot the autistic man instead of his therapist:
- "Why would you try to shoot a person that's autistic with a toy in their hand with a rifle? Really? Really? This has got to stop. This does not make any damn sense. Are you serious?"
- "As big as that Hispanic man was, if he was trying to shoot him and missed him, they should put him off the force because he cannot shoot... Sell the community something better than that."
- "What, are the police dumb as hell? Just because someone says they've got a gun doesn't mean they've got a gun. Get a pair of binoculars. Walk up to the guy. For God's sake, this is getting insane."
- "We're supposed to believe this BS story about the cop shooting the autistic guy because he thought the toy truck was a gun? You people are fucking sick if you think the public is going to back you on this."
- "I think it's infuriating that people simply can't apologize and won't take accountability for a horrific, terrible, horrible, wrong decision. Why would anybody wait to apologize for something that everybody can see is horrific, blatant racial profiling? I don't know. It makes me sick to my stomach."
And there were lots of parents of children with autism who were also appalled by that explanation:
- "I have a son, 18 years old, who was diagnosed with autism, and we've always been afraid his behavior would be mistaken for something aggressive. To see that once again played out in real life just absolutely kills me, and I don't even know what to say... I'm absolutely frightened for my son's well-being, his life, because of the police."
- "I'm the father of an autistic child, about 26 years old now. What I saw in the video is unacceptable, very unacceptable... Why did the cop shoot with his two hands in the sky, in the air? It's just unfathomable."
- "I'm a little bit concerned because I have a 12-, almost 13-year-old autistic daughter and she makes sudden movements. That autistic guy was sitting on the ground holding a freaking toy. So should I be concerned that you all are going to shoot my daughter? Because she would not listen like that. She would be jumping up and down, acting like a crazy person, because she's autistic and that's what some of them do."
Most of the callers urged the department to fire or lock up Aledda:
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- "The officer that shot that therapist needs to be put in jail. It looks bad to all of you and looks bad to the rest of the country."
- "If you don't fire that guy, that would piss me off bad. You better fire that cop."
- "He needs to be cooking hamburgers at McDonald's. He should not be a police officer."
According to the website, only one of the voicemails has been flagged as a threat. It said, "I'd hate for us to turn into the next Baton Rouge." A police spokeswoman told the Miami Herald the department is listening to every message left for it.
One of the shortest messages seemed to summarize what most callers were thinking.
"You done fucked up," an anonymous man said. "What's wrong with y'all, with you people? Get your damn act together."