The police shooting of an African-American caregiver, who was lying in the street trying to help an autism patient, was accidental, according to the local police union representing the North Miami officer.
The officer had intended to shoot the patient, whom he thought posed a danger, but accidentally shot the caregiver instead, said John Rivera, the President of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association.
Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist, was shot Monday by police — an incident which has sparked outrage. Footage released by Kinsey’s attorney showed his client lying on the ground holding both hands in the air, next to a 23-year-old man with autism.
Rivera offered an explanation Thursday, saying that the police officer opened fire because he thought the white individual, whom they later learned is a man with autism, was going to harm Kinsey.
“This wasn’t a mistake in the sense that the officer shot the wrong guy or he thought that Kinsey was the bad guy,” he said in a press conference Thursday.
“The movement of the white individual made it look like he was going to discharge a fire arm into Mr. Kinsey and the officer discharged trying to strike and stop the white man and unfortunately, he missed the white male and shot Mr. Kinsey by accident.”
Rivera said that the video footage of the incident was “being portrayed poorly.”
Kinsey is hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his right leg after two or three shots were fired, according to his attorney.
“Mr. Kinsey did everything right, let’s be real clear about that,” Rivera said. He said that the police officer involved in the shooting “wishes nothing but the best for Mr. Kinsey and the officer is praying for his speedy recovery as are we.”
Kinsey told CNN affiliate WSVN that after the shooting, he was flipped over and handcuffed. A video released by the attorney showed Kinsey lying in the road, on his stomach and handcuffed. Both men were seen flat on the ground with two officers standing near them. According to his attorney Hilton Napoleon II, Kinsey was on the ground for 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived.
North Miami police said the officer opened fire after attempting to negotiate. Kinsey and his attorney said that the police explanation doesn’t add up. State authorities said they’re investigating the incident.
The unidentified officer has been placed on administrative leave and he issued a statement in form of a text message, which was read aloud to the media by Rivera.
“I took this job to save lives and help people,” according to the officer’s text statement. “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.”
Police: Caller reported armed man
A 911 call about an armed man threatening suicide drew officers to the scene just after 5 p.m. Monday, North Miami police Chief Gary Eugene told reporters.
“Our officers responded to the scene with that threat in mind. We had witness statements that there was a gun. We had a 911 call with that same information,” Eugene said Thursday. “However, I want to make it clear, there was no gun recovered.”
Kinsey told WSVN that his patient was holding a toy truck, not a firearm. He said he tried to explain the situation to officers.
Cell phone footage showed Kinsey lying in the street with his hands in the air.
“All he has is a toy truck,” he shouted. “I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”
Rivera, the president of the local police union, said that the officers had not heard what Kinsey was yelling.
Kinsey said the footage, released by his attorney, showed the moment Monday when he tried to persuade North Miami police not to harm his patient. He asked his patient to be still and lie down.
“Please be still … get down … lay on your stomach,” Kinsey says in the video.
The man beside him rocks back and forth.
“I was more worried about him than myself.
“As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not gonna shoot me, that’s what I’m thinking,” Kinsey said. “Wow, was I wrong.”
So far, Napoleon said, video of the shooting itself hasn’t surfaced.
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