The North Miami Police Department has released further details in the shooting of an unarmed and fully compliant man earlier this week.
Charles Kinsey was shot in the leg while lying prostrate on the ground with hands high up in the air, his 27-year-old autistic patient sitting near his feet with a toy truck in his hands.
The North Miami PD now says that Charles Kinsey was shot for his own safety.
The Miami Herald reports:
The North Miami police officer who shot an unarmed, black mental health worker caring for a patient actually took aim at the autistic man next to him, but missed, the head of the police union said Thursday.
The autistic man ignored the orders of police yelling for the men to lie down. Some of the officers were behind poles on the street. Others were behind their patrol vehicles.
According to a law-enforcement source, the officer who shot Kinsey was taking cover behind a squad car and fired from at least 50 yards away. He shot after another officer, in a radio transmission, suggested the autistic man was loading his weapon, which turned out to be the toy truck, the source said.
In interviews, Kinsey said he repeatedly told police while he was lying on the ground that there was no weapon and not to shoot. Rivera said North Miami Police couldn’t hear his cries. The union president didn’t know how far the police were from Kinsey.
While the officer’s name is being withheld for the time being, he has been described as a decorated member of the city’s SWAT team.
SWAT officers are specifically trained for high-intensity situations, and are typically only employed when police expect a firefight. This makes it all the more unusual that Miami SWAT were called out to a situation where no one had been hurt, and there was no evidence of a weapon in sight.
The North Miami Police appear to be justifying their shooting of one compliant man, by explaining the officer meant to hit the innocent autistic man instead.
Instead of approaching the law-abiding pair, Kinsey and his patient, to ascertain the nature of the situation, officers took up battle positions at distant ranges behind poles and squad cars for cover.
These measures undoubtedly served only to heighten the officers’ feelings that this was a combat confrontation — and discouraged them from acting as peace officers.
The police spokesman has tried to justify the shots fired — but not the sub-par accuracy — by explaining another officer had announced the autistic man was “loading his weapon.”
It is still unclear how a highly-trained SWAT officer could have mistaken a white toy truck for a handgun being loaded. It was distinctively visible on the cell phone footage shot of the incident, which was being filmed from at least as far away as the SWAT members.
It is also unclear why all the officers involved ignored the clear and steady words of Charles Kinsey, who assured them he was in no danger.
Spokesman Rivera has claimed the police could not hear Kinsey’s cries, yet again, the cell footage captured his words clearly.
Had police tried to actually speak — and thus listen — to Mr. Kinsey, instead of merely barking orders to comply, this story would have ended without any bloodshed.
In the end, it seems a poor excuse to say the officer only shot the surrendering Black man because his aim was inadequate to hit the autistic man next to him playing with a toy truck.
Even if the Police Department’s story of good-willed incompetence is accurate, it would not explain the treatment of Charles Kinsey after the shooting.
Mr. Kinsey was searched, handcuffed and rolled to his back. He was not given any medical treatment until emergency services arrived an estimated 20 minutes after he was shot.
Mr. Kinsey’s attorney has a great deal of doubt about the story the police have released.