A North Miami police officer who shot an unarmed behavioral therapist as he cared for a man with autism has been charged with attempted manslaughter.
ABC News reports that the Florida State Attorney’s Office announced the charges against Officer Jonathan Aledda Tuesday in the July 18, 2016, shooting of Charles Kinsey, who thankfully survived the encounter.
Aledda was responding to 911 calls about a “possibly suicidal” man with a “silver weapon in his hand.” The man described in the calls was a resident of the Miami Achievement Center for the Developmentally Disabled. The resident had left the center, and Kinsey was following him “in an attempt to return him from the street back to the facility.” The man was holding a silver toy truck in his hand, according to a press release.
Aledda fired three shots, one of which hit Kinsey. The release states that from 152 feet away, Aledda was “not in the position to correctly assess the situation or in a position to accurately fire,” noting that two other police officers “were within 20 feet of the situation” at the time of the gunfire.
In addition to attempted manslaughter, Aledda also faces charges of culpable negligence.
Footage from the 2016 incident shows Kinsey lying on his back on the street with his arms way above his head, while his client sits next to him on the ground.
Just last week, a recording of an interview between North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene and Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators revealed that Aledda was told by another officer at the scene that there was no weapon, only a toy, when he shot Kinsey.
“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!’”
The report indicated that the crime scene was mismanaged and that city government and the Police Department were “in disarray and plague[d] by infighting.”
The state attorney’s office said that the charges stemmed from “a lengthy inquiry” that included a prosecutorial review of the police investigation, numerous police and prosecutor meetings to review case evidence and site enactments and statements from police witnesses, ABC notes.
Aledda, who is a member of the department’s SWAT team, was placed on paid administrative leave following the incident.
In July, Aledda spoke out through the police union, saying, “I took this job to save lives and help people. I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that and hate to hear others paint me as something I’m not.”
Luis Fuste, secretary of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, called the charges against the officer the state attorney’s way of putting “all officers on notice.”
Fuste blasted the charges as “problematic in today’s culture,” in which he said that there are “endless situations” where someone who is potentially holding a weapon could pose “a threat to many people around them.”
It was unclear if Aledda had entered a plea.
Read more at ABC News.