A 911 caller told a dispatcher that one of the people involved in a disturbance earlier this month may be “mentally ill,” according to a recording of the call released this week. However, a North Miami Police officer who arrived on the scene shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed behavioral therapist who was attempting to calm an adult patient with autism.
The caller said there was a man in the middle of the road, possibly holding a gun to his head, and that another man was “trying to talk him out of it,” according to a recording the Miami-Dade Police Department provided to The Huffington Post.
It was later determined that neither man had a gun, and that one was carrying a toy truck.
“I think the guy is mentally sick,” the caller tells dispatch just over two minutes into the call. He “looks like a mentally ill person,” she adds a bit later.
“I don’t know if it’s a gun, but he had something that’s shaped like a gun, so be careful,” she cautions. Then she says, for a third time, that the man in distress may be mentally ill.
It’s unclear how much of the information dispatch relayed to the responding officer.
Video of the ensuing incident shows 47-year-old Kinsey lying on his back with his hands in the air as officers approach him and the other man.
“All he has is a toy truck in his hands, a toy truck,” Kinsey tells police, hands still in the air. “I am a behavioral therapist in a group home. That’s all it is... no need for guns.”
Nevertheless, one officer opened fire, shooting at Kinsey three times and hitting him in the leg. Kinsey said he asked the officer why he shot him and that the officer replied by saying, “I don’t know.”
The officer who fired his gun, Jonathan Aledda, 30, has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
His commander has also been suspended while under scrutiny for potentially giving investigators conflicting reports.
John Rivera, head of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, defended Aledda’s actions during a news conference last week.
“This isn’t a mistake in the sense that the officer shot the wrong guy, or that Mr. Kinsey was the bad guy,” Rivera said. “It was a mistake in the sense that he thought Mr. Kinsey was a victim and was about to lose his life. And so he attempted to stop the white male and accidentally shot Mr. Kinsey.”