A Miami police officer shot an unarmed black caregiver attempting to calm an autistic patient who had reportedly wandered off an assisted living facility, raising further concerns about the alleged inappropriate use of force employed by law enforcement officials when dealing with African-American men.
Cellphone videos shot just before the incident showed Charles Kinsey, a behavioral specialist, lying on the ground in a street in Miami with his hands in the air, apparently trying to calm an autistic patient.
In one of the videos, which has been widely disseminated since it appeared online on Wednesday, the black caregiver can be seen lying on his back with his hands in the air telling police he didn’t have a weapon and asking them not to fire.
“All he has is a toy truck in his hand. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home,” Kinsey can be heard saying.
At one point in the video the autistic man appears to yell at the caregiver to shut up. Another video, shorter in length, shows officers who are carrying rifles physically patting down Kinsey and the autistic man while they are lying on the ground.
There are no video clips of the actual moment when the Miami police officer fired the shots.
According to Vox, the 23-year-old autistic patient, who has only been identified as Rinaldo, ran away from a group home with a toy truck in his hand. Mistaking the toy truck as a firearm, someone called 911 to report that he was attempting to commit suicide. When police officers arrived on the scene, they saw Kinsey trying to calm the autistic patient.
In the ensuing minutes, the black man followed the police officer’s orders, and lied on the ground with his hands in the air. He was still attempting to calm the autistic patient, telling him to lie down on his stomach too.
Even so, one Miami police officer shot thrice for reasons hitherto unknown, but fortunately, only one bullet hit Kinsey in the leg. Speaking to local news station WSVN, the black man recounted the incident from his hospital bed.
“When I went to the ground, I went to the ground with my hands up,” Kinsey said with his hands in the air.
“And I am laying there just like this. Telling them again there is no need for firearms. He is autistic. He has a toy truck in his hand.
I was really more worried about him than myself. I was thinking as long as I have my hands up. They’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow, was I wrong.
I thought it was a mosquito bite, and when it hit me I had my hands in the air, and I’m thinking I just got shot! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know.'”
A spokesperson for the North Miami Police Department told Miami Herald that the police officer who shot the black man has been placed on administrative leave, as per the protocol in such cases. However, the police department refused to identify the police officer responsible for shooting Kinsey.
An investigation into the shooting is underway at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
This latest case of shooting of an unarmed black man by another law enforcement officer comes on the back of a cycle of violence that erupted after a Baton Rouge police officer shot a black man, Alton Sterling, outside a convenience store earlier this month. With the investigation still pending, it would be naive to assume what might have exactly transpired which led to Charles Kinsey’s shooting by the Miami police officer, but another shooting nonetheless gives credibility to the allegations that certain police officers are more inclined to using force when dealing with black men.
[Photo by iStock]