North Miami, FL – The police shooting of Charles Kinsey on July 18, 2016, outraged the nation, as video footage captured Kinsey lying on his back with hands in the air, begging the cops not to shoot – but a cop shot him anyway. Now, that cop is actually being charged for his crimes.
Wednesday Afternoon, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, according to Miami New Times, did something she’s never done in her 24 years in office — she charged a cop for an on-duty shooting.
According to the Times, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced it has charged North Miami SWAT Officer Jonathan Aledda with felony attempted manslaughter and misdemeanor culpable negligence after Aledda shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man, in July 2016.
Undoubtedly, a key factor in these charges was the cellphone video taken by a brave citizen who was unafraid to film police.
The scene unfolded that fateful day when Kinsey, a behavior technician at a group home, was trying to calm a distressed autistic boy, Arnaldo Rios, who had left the home. Rios had a toy truck in his hand, but the cops thought there was a gun, despite Kinsey repeatedly saying, “He has a toy truck.”
Afterward, the Miami-Dade police union attempted to rationalize the shooting by saying the cop – now identified as North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda – was trying to shoot the “white male” to protect Kinsey, but missed and struck Kinsey by mistake.
“The movement of the white individual looked like he was getting ready to discharge a firearm into Mr. Kinsey,” Miami-Dade union boss John Rivera told WSVN.
The veracity of that claim, however, is in serious doubt after stunning revelations reported by the Miami New Times this week.
“Moments before North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda shot unarmed behavioral technician Charles Kinsey last July 18, another cop on the scene warned there was no gun, only a toy.”
The bewildering idea that none of the cops on the scene could see Rios had a toy truck, not a gun, was indeed a farce. Someone did see the toy truck and warned all the officers, but Aledda shot moments after.
These facts were revealed through an audio recording of North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene’s interview with Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigators.
“I heard the shooter, Officer Aledda, make a statement to the nature of ‘Be advised, I have clear shot [of] subject,'” Eugene said, 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!’
I heard the sergeant, who advised earlier that it was a toy, say, ‘Hold fire! Hold fire! It was a toy,’ trying to stop whoever was doing the shooting.”
Aledda was put on paid suspension after the shooting, and the Miami-Dade State Attorney finally came to the decision to charge him. Meanwhile, Kinsey has sued Officer Aledda for shooting him.
Police Chief Eugene has been witness to a host of dysfunction – including “department infighting, collusion, and incompetence on the part of city officials” – and could no longer sit by and say nothing. He opened up to FDLE investigators, and there are more damning revelations beyond the fact that an officer informed everyone there was no gun.
“After the shooting, an assistant chief repeatedly lied to the police chief, and City Manager Larry Spring ignored vital evidence.
Moreover, the crime scene was mismanaged, and the police department and city government were in disarray and plagued by infighting.”
Days after the shooting, Eugene decided to listen to audio of the shooting, after he realized that Assistant Chief Larry Juriga lied to him about events surrounding the shooting. Juriga tried to say that another officer, Police commander Emile Hollant, gave the order to shoot – so Juriga could carry out a personal vendetta against Hollant.
In fact, Hollant was going to get binoculars to verify what Rios had in his hand, but when he came back from his patrol car, Kinsey had been shot.
Eugene went to City Manager Larry Spring the morning after listening to the audio, asking Spring to listen too, but Spring refused. Instead, according to Eugene, Spring slapped the table and said, “You don’t understand what I’m telling you. Get control of your people!”
Eugene said he almost quit on the spot.
“That wasn’t the only disturbing thing the chief learned. Eugene said he soon found that before Hollant had been suspended, the commander in charge of the scene during the shooting had tried to intimidate him into changing his story. That commander urged Hollant to say that he had seen the shooting and that the autistic man did seem to be loading a gun. “He talked to Emile prior to the suspension and told him… ‘[By] not saying you saw the guy loading the gun, do you realize that information could have helped my officer?’ They were more concerned about clearing the officer of any wrongdoing than actually getting any impartial investigation.”
Eugene said the whole incident was a wake-up call to him about bad training in the department. He reiterated that the Kinsey crime scene was one of the worst managed he’d ever seen.”
It seems there are plenty of bad apples in the department and city government to deal with. The credibility of the Miami-Dade police union is also called into question, as they claimed quite pointedly that Aledda thought Rios was about to “discharge a firearm” – even though another officer told everyone he was holding a toy.
Kinsey’s lawsuit against Aledda is sure to improve as this information and news of the charges is made public.
But perhaps, the more important question is, Why did it take State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle 8 months to file these charges — when they had this information on day one?