Jury convicts Miami cop on misdemeanor charge over shooting of unarmed caregiver

Jury convicts Miami cop on misdemeanor charge over shooting of unarmed caregiver

A Miami police officer who was charged with several crimes in 2016 has been found guilty of one misdemeanor charge over the shooting of an unarmed man lying on the ground and attempting to provide care for an autistic person.

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was shot in the leg and wounded by Officer Jonathan Aledda of the North Miami police department in 2016 after he attempted to provide assistance to 23-year-old Arnaldo Rios-Soto, who had wandered away from a nearby adult group home clutching a small toy truck.

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Aledda said he thought the toy was a gun following a report from a passing motorist.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Aledda was found guilty of culpable negligence while being found not guilty on two felony counts of attempted manslaughter. Aledda maintained that he had not been aiming at Kinsey and instead had been aiming at Rios-Soto, whom he believed to be threatening the therapist.

"It appeared he was screaming for mercy or for help or something. In my mind, the white male had a gun," Aledda testified on Monday, according to NPR. "I couldn't hear what the black man was saying. In my mind, I thought he might get shot."

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in a statement to NBC after the jury's decision said the community had been traumatized by Aledda's actions.

"Since July 18, 2016, our community has been traumatized by North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda’s shooting of mental health therapist Charles Kinsey. Tonight, a jury decided that the shooting was not an error or an accident but the crime of culpable negligence," Fernandez Rundle's statement said.

Rios-Soto's attorney Matthew Dietz told NBC that the shooting occurred because police too frequently have no contact with autistic people or others with mental disabilities.

"The jury saw that Arnaldo was a human being — a man with autism and an intellectual disability who lived in a local group home who was playing with a toy truck," attorney Matthew Dietz told NBC.

"Police should take an active role and visit group homes, schools and community centers in their cities and towns and meet their residents who live with significant disabilities so they are never perceived as threats by just merely existing," he added.