Fla. Officer Charged With Shooting Autistic Man's Caretaker - NBC New York
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Fla. Officer Charged With Shooting Autistic Man's Caretaker

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    A North Miami police officer who shot the unarmed caretaker of an autistic man has been charged with attempted manslaughter, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

    (Published Wednesday, April 12, 2017)

    A North Miami police officer who shot the unarmed caretaker of an autistic man has been charged with attempted manslaughter, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

    Officer Jonathan Aledda also was charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence in the shooting of behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey.

    Aledda, a four-year veteran of the department, was arrested Wednesday and was later released from Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on $6,000 bond. The officer remained silent as he walked passed reporters outside the jail.

    The criminal charges come after what officials said was a lengthy investigation by the State Attorney's Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the July 2016 shooting.

    Kinsey, a caretaker at a home for people with mental disabilities, was lying on the ground, with his hands up in the air, next to his adult patient when he was shot in the leg by Aledda on July 18.

    Cellphone video captured events leading up to the shooting.

    Police said officers responded to the scene after they received a 911 call of an armed man threatening suicide. In the call, the unidentified woman told the 911 operator that the man appeared to be mentally disturbed and that another man was trying to talk him out of killing himself.

    When he was shot, Kinsey was attempting to calm Arnaldo Rios, a man with autism who had walked away from the group home where he lives. Rios was holding a silver toy truck.

    Aledda was not the closest officer to the scene and was 152 feet away from Kinsey when he fired, according to the affidavit.

    "Officer Aledda was not in a position to correctly assess the situation or in a position to accurately fire," the State Attorney's Office said in a statement.

    The case marks the first time that charges have been brought against an officer for an on-duty shooting incident under the office of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

    North Miami's police union, which is representing Aledda, called the arrest "100 percent politically motivated."

    Luis Fuste, with the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, defended Aledda's decision to shoot Kinsey and said that a jury "will also vindicate this."

    "The video does not replace what the human experience sees, what Officer Aledda was seeing, what he was processing," Fuste said. "He believed that the individual was causing harm to the caretaker, that's the information he had, that's the information he used to make a decision. He felt that he was doing it in the best interest of the caretaker."

    But testimony from the chief of the North Miami Police Department contradicts that claim.

    In audio recorded interviews with investigators, obtained by NBC 6, Chief Gary Eugene said moments before Aledda shot Kinsey another officer on the scene warned there no gun.

    Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

    "At that time I heard the shooter, Officer Aledda, make a statement to the nature of, 'be advised, I have a clear shot of the subject,'" Eugene told investigators. "The sergeant got on the air and said 'I have a visual. It is a toy. It is a toy - QRX.' QRX mean stand by, Don’t do anything."

    The chief expressed frustration with his officer's investigation and said the crime scene was mismanaged.

    "My experience, clearly the scene was a mess, to be honest with you. People walking all over the place. Thank God the gentleman did not die," Chief Eugene told FDLE investigators.

    The chief said he tried to sort through the conflicting reports from supervisors and felt the investigation into the shooting appeared to be designed to protect the officer.

    "They were more concerned about clearing the officer of any wrongdoing than actually conducting an impartial investigation," he said.

    North Miami City Councilman Scott Galvin agreed with the decision to charge the officer.

    "This situation is really about justice for Mr. Kinsey and Mr. Rios," said Galvin. 

    Aledda was placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting was investigated. Kensey, who spent days in the hospital following the shooting, filed a lawsuit against Aledda in federal court. Aledda has denied any wrongdoing.

    NBC 6 reached out to Kinsey's attorney for comment, but he declined citing the pending federal lawsuit.