The North Miami police officer who shot an autistic man’s caretaker last summer is now facing criminal charges.
The Florida State Attorney’s office announced charges against Florida Officer Johnathan Aledda Wednesday, April 12, charging him with attempted manslaughter and culpable negligence for the July 2016 shooting. This marks the first time under Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle that a police officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting, CBS Miami reported.
Rundle’s office determined that the officer was in no position to correctly asses the situation or fire his gun at behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey and his autistic patient Arnaldo Rios-Soto, which prompted the criminal charges.
Viral video surfaced last year of 62-year-old Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air moments before he was shot by Officer Aledda. At the time, the therapist was attempting to retrieve Rios-Soto, who had wandered away from a local group home facility with a silver toy truck in his hands. Kinsey was trying to guide the autistic man back home.
Calls from concerned residents about a man, possibly suicidal, roaming the streets with a silver weapon prompted police to swarm the area where the two men were located. Once surrounded, Kinsey yelled to police that Rios-Soto had a toy truck, not a gun, in his hands, according to the arrest affidavit. The caretaker was filmed laying on the ground with his hands up while his patient sat cross-legged next to him and continued fumbling with the toy.
That’s when investigators say Aledda, located about 150 feet from the men, fired three shots, hitting Kinsey in the right thigh.
“This is disturbing,” the behavioral therapist said of the shooting back in July. “I play this in my head every day and I can’t sleep at night. This could’ve gone the other way. I’m blessed that it didn’t.”
Although the shooting wasn’t fatal, it was still highly scrutinized as another example of excessive use of force by police against African-Americans.
North Miami’s police union, which is representing Aledda, swiftly denounced the charges against its client.
“In this case, we’re going to be able to show how politically motivated, vindictive and incompetent that the state attorney is,” John Rivera, Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President, said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “The law is a very simple thing — intent. They’re never going to be able to prove that this guy acted maliciously or recklessly in any way.”
Luis Fuste with the Miami-Dade P.B.A. echoed Rivera’s sentiments, arguing that Aledda’s arrest had been “politicized.”
“It has been politicized, the entire arrest,” Fuste said. “Officer Aledda took this job to save lives. Officer Aledda made a split-second decision back in July and nine months later, the state attorney hands down an indictment for this.
“If it was so clear cut, why did it take nine months?” he added.
Kinsey has since filed a lawsuit against the Florida officer alleging that his civil right were violated. Hilton Napoleon, his attorney, declined to comment on Aledda’s charges due to the pending federal case.
Aledda could face up to five years behind bars for the shooting.