The recent North Miami police shooting has triggered outrage among many people. During the incident, which was apparently caught on video, a Florida police officer shot and wounded the caretaker of a black autistic man. The video shows the man lying on the ground with his hands up before being shot.
The shooting comes amid an escalation of tension in the United States following a series of police shootings of black men for no apparent reason. The shootings resulted in two cases of violence against police officers.
Several officers responded to a call on Monday about a man who had threatened to shoot himself, the Associated Press reports. Upon arrival, officers found Charles Kinsey, 47, a therapist who works with disabled people, trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility after the autistic man had wandered off.
According to WSVN-TV, the 911 call police received claimed there was a man walking around with a gun threatening to commit suicide. However, this was not the case.
Kinsey explained to police that the man was his patient. The alleged gun was a toy truck, which he said was clearly visible to police.
“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,” Kinsey said. “This is what I’m thinking, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow, was I wrong.”
Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas said police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was in the street playing with a toy truck, to lay down on the ground. Kinsey obeyed police orders to lie down on his back, and he also raised his hands as he tried to calm his special needs patient and convince him to follow the instructions.
The ordeal went on for several minutes, and then one officer fired three times and shot Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. Speaking with reporters, Kinsey said he was shocked when police started shooting at him.
“I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” Kinsey was quoted as saying. “It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I’m like, ‘I still got my hands in the air,’ and I said, ‘No I just got shot!’ And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me, he said, ‘I don’t know.'”
Although the moment when he was shot was not captured on video, Kinsey told reporters that he had his hands up the whole time. He also said that after he was shot, he was placed in handcuffs and left bleeding in the street. No weapon was recovered at the scene.
Given the facts of this case, it’s hard to understand why the officer felt the need to fire his weapon at a man who was unarmed and had his hands up. Kinsey’s lawyer, Hilton Napoleon, provided the video of the incident to the Miami Herald, which shows Kinsey with hands up, begging police not to shoot him, while the autistic man sits beside him shouting “Shut up!”
Napoleon says the shooting is unjustified and he is already negotiating a possible settlement with the city of North Miami.
“They realize this was something inappropriate regarding the shooting,” he said. “If police departments come out more and admit fault, that would probably go a long way toward improving relations with the public.”
Police have not released the name or race of the officer who shot him but said he was placed on administrative leave, which is normal in these cases. The following statement was released by North Miami police regarding the incident.
“There is preliminary information that North Miami Police Officers were dispatched to the scene after a 911 call was received of an armed male suspect threatening suicide. Arriving officers attempted to negotiate with two men on the scene, one of whom was later identified as suffering from autism. The other man was later identified as an employee of an assisted living facility. At some point during the on-scene negotiation, one of the responding officers discharged his weapon, striking the employee.”
[Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images]