Last week, online video surfaced of an African-American therapist lying on the ground with his hands in the air moments before he was shot by a North Miami police officer.
Charles Kinsey, 62, was stretched out beside his autistic patient Arnaldo Rios-Soto, who had wandered away from a local group home, before he was shot in the leg by police. Authorities defended the shooting, which was prompted by a 911 call from a neighbor claiming Rios-Soto had a gun and was attempting to kill himself. Recordings of the harrowing 911 call have since been released, revealing key details missing from the original police narrative.
In the recording, an unidentified woman can be heard telling the dispatcher that the man with the “gun” looked mentally-ill and that the object he was holding might not be a gun at all.
“There’s this guy in the middle of the road, and he has what appears to be a gun,” the woman said in a 911 tape released late Thursday by Miami-Dade police. “He has it to his head, and there’s a guy there trying to talk him out of it.”
“I don’t know if it’s a gun,” she continued. “But he has something the shape of a gun, so just be careful. “But he’s sitting in the middle of the road.”
The caller also described the men in detail, telling the dispatcher “He’s a Spanish guy, young kid. Spanish guy with gray shorts and gray pants. The guy that’s trying to talk him out of it is green shirt and black shorts. But I think the Spanish guy looks like a mentally ill person.”
A short time later, SWAT officer Jonathan Aledda fired a single shot at Kinsey, hitting him in the leg. Rios Soto, 26, sat cross-legged next to his caretaker and continued to fumble with what turned out to be a toy truck. Video of the shooting quickly went viral and sparked national outrage over yet another Black man shot at the hands of police. Luckliy, Kinsey survived.
According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade police released the three-minute, 19-second recording on the same day Kinsey spoke publicly for the first time since he was released from the hospital. The therapist was briefly reunited with Rios-Soto in the days following the shooting. Kinsey told reporters the young man jumped from his hospital bed and embraced him when he showed up to the room for their private meeting.
“When he saw me, he jumped right up and he wanted to cry,” Kinsey said.
“He is looking well. He is doing really well, and he was very happy to see me,” the therapist added. “He gave me a real big hug, and I sat with him for about 10 to 15 minutes.”
Per the Miami Herald, Rios-Soto is still hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of Aventura hospital due to the emotional trauma caused by the shooting.
The president of the local police union still defends Aledda’s choice to fire his gun, asserting that the officer intended to shoot, Rios-Soto, not Kinsey, because he thought the therapist’s life was in danger. Aledda is currently on administrative leave as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts a thorough investigation into the matter, Florida’s WPLG Local 10 reports. The investigation is expected to take anywhere from 45 to 60 days.
According to the Miami Herald, recordings of the conversation between the dispatcher and responding officers have not yet been released. Somewhere in the line of communication, the dispatcher might have failed to tell the officer Rios-Soto appeared to be mentally ill and that he might not have a gun. Those key details poked a few holes in the police’s initial story.
“I don’t think there was a dispute about the 911 call,” Kinsey’s attorney Hilton Napoleon said. “The issue is going to come when the radio transmission is released. I really do believe justice will be served at the end.”
Mistakes on the part of 911 dispatchers have proved fatal for some, like Tamir Rice. In that case, the dispatcher failed to tell responding officers that the gun the 12-year-old was seen playing with was probably a toy. Rice was shot with seconds of police arriving on the scene.
911 dispatchers also hung up on Chicago teen Quintonio LeGrier three times before the 19-year-old was gunned down by a police officer.
Listen to the 911 call here: