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 his patient who was holding a toy – but a cop shot him anyway. Now, because American citizens have been conditioned to accept rampant police incompetence and violence, the cop who shot him has been acquitted on two counts attempted manslaughter.
In 2017, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle — did something she's never done in her 24 years in office — she charged a cop for an on-duty shooting. However, this was all in vain. This week, Aledda was acquitted on the two felony counts of manslaughter and found guilty of culpable negligence a misdemeanor that will allow him to potentially remain a cop.
This was Aledda's second trial in just a few months, the first of which ended in a hung jury. Because he was the first cop to be charged in an on-duty shooting since 1989, his case garnered national attention.
As the Miami Herald reported, the jury’s forewoman, Stacy Sarna, said the jury had a spirited debate but concluded that under “our reading of the law” Aledda was not guilty of the attempted manslaughter counts. However, the misdemeanor count was warranted because Aledda didn’t “take into account” the safety of the community when he fired his weapon, she said.
According to the Miami New Times, despite the fact that Kinsey was filmed screaming the supposed gun was a toy, Aledda still pulled the trigger. The case became national news — civil rights activists noted Kinsey did everything possible to avoid getting shot and followed virtually every order the police shouted before Aledda pumped bullets into his leg.
Aledda argued he was actually aiming at Rios Soto, the man with autism. The officer believed Rios Soto was holding Kinsey hostage with a gun. Aledda also claimed he did not hear police radio transmissions telling officers on the scene not to fire their weapons.
“I believed it was a hostage situation,” Aledda testified, completely ignored both his victim's warning and warning from his fellow officers that it was not. “It appeared he was screaming for mercy or for help or something. In my mind, the white male had a gun.”
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, Rios, who had left the home. Rios had a toy truck in his hand, but the cop 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 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 were reported by the Miami New Times.
“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.
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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.
Highlighting the public's conditioning to accept poor behavior from trigger happy cops is the fact that in the first trial in March, the jury foreperson himself walked up to Aledda after the acquittal and apologized for one of the members on the jury who refused to acquit the officer on the other charges.