A recording of an interview between North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene and Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators reveals that North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda was told by another officer on the scene that there was no weapon, only a toy, when he shot unarmed behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey on July 18, 2016.
The hourlong recording was obtained by the Miami New Times on Tuesday, and it reveals that after the shooting, an assistant chief lied repeatedly to Chief Eugene, and City Manager Larry Spring ignored vital evidence in the shooting.
According to the New Times, the crime scene was mismanaged, and city government and the Police Department were “in disarray and plagued by infighting.”
Cellphone video of Kinsey, who was caring for an autistic man, being shot in the leg while he had his hands in the air made the incident part of the national conversation on the Black Lives Matter movement. Kinsey lay prone on the ground, begging officers not to shoot him prior to being hit.
Eight months after the shooting and four months after state investigators have closed their probe, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has yet to file charges against anyone involved.
Ed Griffin, a spokesperson for Rundle’s office, told the New Times, “We are very close to coming to a decision.”
Emile Hollant is a North Miami police commander who was suspended after the shooting and is suing the city over his discipline.
Michael Joseph, an attorney representing Hollant, told the New Times, “It’s pretty damning, what’s in that tape. The police chief outlines rogue officers in that department and other rogue officials. Something has to be done about this. The city has to do the right thing here and clean house.”
Aledda’s actions were justified by union officials who said he thought the autistic man with Kinsey had a gun and not a toy truck, but Eugene’s interview with FDLE directly contradicts that.
“I heard the shooter, Officer Aledda, make a statement to the nature of, ‘Be advised, I have clear shot [at] subject,’” Eugene can be heard saying in the recording, describing the audio of the police radio just before the shooting. “Later on, a sergeant ... got on the air and said, ‘I have a visual, it is a toy. Is it a toy? QRX.’ That means, ‘Stand by, don’t do anything.’ Then, there is a conversation back and forth. The next transmission was by [another officer saying] ‘Shot fired!’”
Eugene is a veteran city of Miami cop who had only been sworn in as chief six days prior to the Kinsey shooting. He told investigators that the department’s training was lax and the infighting was rampant.
“The scene was a mess, to be honest with you,” he tells investigators of the Kinsey shooting. “People were walking all over the place. Thank God [Kinsey] did not die. I realized I have a problem with the training of my staff. We’re talking about some 15- or 16-year veterans, but in North Miami, a 15- or 16-year veteran may have less experience than a two-year cop in Miami.”
Eugene’s interview is a messy look at the inner workings of a department in peril. False reports, officers being intimidated into changing their stories, a plot by the assistant chief to get rid of Hollant, and a city manager who refused to listen to audio recordings from the shooting or warnings from the chief.
In other words, this would make a great episode—or 10—of American Crime Story.
Just what will happen now with the new evidence is anyone’s guess, but let’s keep our fingers crossed that Charles Kinsey sees even a little bit of justice.
Read more at the Miami New Times.