When behavior technician Charles Kinsey was shot by a North Miami Police officer while trying to help an autistic client this past July, the outrage was pretty much universal.
A witness released video of Kinsey lying flat on his back with his hands in the air, and dozens of horrified callers told the police department to "get your damn act together." Even pro-police websites such as Blue Lives Matter, which has defended the officers who shot Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, said that Officer Jonathan Aledda failed to properly assess the situation and that Kinsey should never have been shot.
But in a recent court filing, attorneys for Aledda say the actions of the North Miami cop were "consistent with how any reasonable officer would have acted under the circumstances in question." Though not explicitly doubling down on the story that the officer was actually aiming for the autistic patient, their response indicates that Aledda was somehow acting in Kinsey's defense.
"When it's all said and done, I think we'll get a very different picture of what transpired," Aledda's attorney, Robert Switkes, tells New Times.
Aledda's response comes several weeks after Kinsey first filed a federal lawsuit against the cop for excessive force and false arrest. Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, says the case is "the most factually egregious" he's seen yet in an alarming trend of police-involved shootings of young black men.
"No unbiased person can look at that video and say it's justified," Napoleon says. "You had a guy lying on the ground with his hands in the air. It doesn't get any clearer than that."
The officer's 20-page response, filed last Friday, oddly fails to concede basic details of the case, such as Kinsey's Florida citizenship and his employment status as a behavior technician, with Aledda "demand[ing] strict proof thereof." But the officer does agree that Kinsey's hands "were raised in the air," an admission Napoleon says surprised him.
Aledda has denied hearing Kinsey identify himself as a behavior tech at the group home and shout that his patient had a toy truck, not a gun, despite clear evidence of Kinsey saying those things in the witness' video.
"At a scene with a number of officers and departments responding, things happen, and the fact that certain things are said by an individual doesn’t mean that everybody was in earshot of those things," Switkes says.
The shooting remains under review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced it is investigating whether the officer violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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