The shooting of an unarmed black man by a North Miami police officer is the latest police-involved shooting coming under scrutiny. Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was trying to help one of his patients when he was shot in the leg by police.
Officers arrived on the scene after receiving a 911 call about a suicidal man with a gun. The 23-year-old autistic man was sitting in the middle of the street after wandering away from the care facility where Kinsey was his caretaker. Cell phone video from a witness near the scene shows Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air. Kinsey can be heard explaining to the officers that he is a behavioral therapist and that the other man is his patient who has autism. He also explains that the object in the patient’s hand is a toy truck and not a weapon. Kinsey tells police that he is unarmed and tries to convince his patient to lie down. At one point, the patient appears to yell at Kinsey to shut up. It was shortly after this that the officer fired, wounding Kinsey in the leg. A second piece of video shows officers patting down and handcuffing a bleeding Kinsey.
According to John Rivera of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, the officer involved thought Kinsey was in danger and was actually aiming for the patient. Rivera says the officers were unable to hear what Kinsey was saying that they did not realize until later that Kinsey was the man’s caregiver and that the man had autism and was unable to understand their commands.
The officer who shot Kinsey has been with the North Miami police department for four years and has also served with the SWAT team. The officer is currently on administrative leave while the case is investigated by Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state’s attorney’s office.