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.
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.
Kinsey's case went viral for utterly depressing reasons in 2016. Bystander video footage showed Kinsey lying on his back in the street with his hands in the air as he begged cops not to shoot. A few feet away, a man with autism, Arnaldo Rios Soto, sat playing with a silver toy truck. Kinsey had been trying to help Rios Soto out of the street when someone called 911 and claimed Rios Soto had a gun. Aledda, a SWAT officer, ultimately opened fire and hit Kinsey in the leg.
New Times later obtained audio of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement interview with then-North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene, who admitted his officers stated on police radios before the shooting that Rios Soto did not have a gun, only a toy. (Eugene also claimed that his department was in disarray, that factions of NMPD hated one another, and that the crime scene after Kinsey's shooting was a complete mess. He was later fired, in part because the audio obtained by New Times conflicted with his sworn testimony to his own internal affairs unit.)
During the trial, Aledda claimed he did not hear his own officers state that the gun was actually a toy and that he, therefore, should hold his fire. The jury deliberated for more than three hours last night before returning its verdict.
Aledda now faces up to a year in prison. Because the charge is a misdemeanor, he could remain a police officer after serving his sentence.
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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.