North Miami, FL – The police shooting of Charles Kinsey on July 18, 2016, outraged the nation, as video footage captured Kinsey lying on his back with hands in the air, begging the cops not to shoot – but a cop shot him anyway.
The scene unfolded when Kinsey, a behavior technician at a group home, was trying to calm a distressed autistic boy, Arnaldo Rios, who had left the home. Rios had a toy truck in his hand, but the cops thought there was a gun, despite Kinsey repeatedly saying, “He has a toy truck.”
Afterward, the Miami-Dade police union attempted to rationalize the shooting by saying the cop – now identified as North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda – was trying to shoot the “white male” to protect Kinsey, but missed and struck Kinsey by mistake.
“The movement of the white individual looked like he was getting ready to discharge a firearm into Mr. Kinsey,” Miami-Dade union boss John Rivera told WSVN.
The veracity of that claim, however, is in serious doubt after stunning revelations reported by the Miami New Times this week.
The bewildering idea that none of the cops on the scene could see Rios had a toy truck, not a gun, was indeed a farce. Someone did see the toy truck and warned all the officers, but Aledda shot moments after.
These facts were revealed through an audio recording of North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene’s interview with Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigators.
Aledda was put on paid suspension after the shooting, and the Miami-Dade State Attorney is reportedly “very close to coming to a decision” on whether to charge anyone involved. Meanwhile, Kinsey has sued Officer Aledda for shooting him.
Police Chief Eugene has been witness to a host of dysfunction – including “department infighting, collusion, and incompetence on the part of city officials” – and could no longer sit by and say nothing. He opened up to FDLE investigators, and there are more damning revelations beyond the fact that an officer informed everyone there was no gun.
Days after the shooting, Eugene decided to listen to audio of the shooting, after he realized that Assistant Chief Larry Juriga lied to him about events surrounding the shooting. Juriga tried to say that another officer, Police commander Emile Hollant, gave the order to shoot – so Juriga could carry out a personal vendetta against Hollant.
In fact, Hollant was going to get binoculars to verify what Rios had in his hand, but when he came back from his patrol car, Kinsey had been shot.
Eugene went to City Manager Larry Spring the morning after listening to the audio, asking Spring to listen too, but Spring refused. Instead, according to Eugene, Spring slapped the table and said, “You don’t understand what I’m telling you. Get control of your people!”
Eugene said he almost quit on the spot.
“That wasn’t the only disturbing thing the chief learned. Eugene said he soon found that before Hollant had been suspended, the commander in charge of the scene during the shooting had tried to intimidate him into changing his story. That commander urged Hollant to say that he had seen the shooting and that the autistic man did seem to be loading a gun. “He talked to Emile prior to the suspension and told him… ‘[By] not saying you saw the guy loading the gun, do you realize that information could have helped my officer?’ They were more concerned about clearing the officer of any wrongdoing than actually getting any impartial investigation.”
Eugene said the whole incident was a wake-up call to him about bad training in the department. He reiterated that the Kinsey crime scene was one of the worst managed he’d ever seen.”
It seems there are plenty of bad apples in the department and city government to deal with. The credibility of the Miami-Dade police union is also called into question, as they claimed quite pointedly that Aledda thought Rios was about to “discharge a firearm” – even though another officer told everyone he was holding a toy.
Kinsey’s lawsuit against Aledda is sure to improve as this information is made public. But perhaps more importantly, the Miami New Times asks:
“Eight months after the shooting and four months after state investigators closed their probe, why has Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle still not charged anyone involved?”