Last August, North Miami Police Department officer Jonathan Aledda shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed Black behavioral specialist who was working to get his autistic patient out of the street. Cell phone footage showed that Kinsey was lying in the street with his hands up when he was shot. Aledda claimed that he thought the toy truck patient Arnaldo Eliud Rio was playing with was a gun.
Now, the New Miami Times reports that another officer on the scene told Aledda that it was a toy before he pulled the trigger. The revelation comes from an audio recording of North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene’s interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency that investigated the shooting for criminal misconduct. The recording, which New Miami Times reported on yesterday (April 4) is below.
In the interview, Eugene alleges that an officer told the shooter that Rio had a toy, not a gun, and not to shoot. As transcribed by Miami New Times:
“I heard the shooter, Officer Aledda, make a statement to the nature of ‘Be advised, I have clear shot [of] subject,’” Eugene said, describing the audio of the police radio just before the shooting. “Later on, a sergeant ... got on the air and said, ‘I have a visual; it is a toy. Is it a toy? QRX.’ That means ‘Stand by; don’t do anything.’ Then there is a conversation back and forth. The next transmission was by [another officer saying] ‘Shot fired!’” …
“I heard the sergeant, who advised earlier that it was a toy, say, ‘Hold fire! Hold fire! It was a toy,’ trying to stop whoever was doing the shooting,” Eugene said. “I said, ‘Oh Lord.’”
He also discloses that the department, which he inherited six days before the shooting, was in disarray—and that internal issues were on display at the scene of the shooting:
“The scene was a mess, to be honest with you,” he tells investigators of the Kinsey shooting. “People were walking all over the place. Thank God [Kinsey] did not die. I realized I have a problem with the training of my staff. We’re talking about some 15- or 16-year veterans, but in North Miami, a 15- or 16-year veteran may have less experience than a two-year cop in Miami.”
He also revealed that officers were attempting to intimidate other officers to say that the young man was loading a gun. “They were more concerned about clearing the officer of any wrongdoing than actually getting any impartial investigation,” he says on the recording. He also says that allegations that Commander Emile Hollant lied in his post-shooting interview were not true. Hollant has since been cleared of wrong doing, but remains on paid suspension pending the conclusion of the investigation.
When Miami New Times contacted Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to see if any of the involved officers will be indicted for their roles in the non-fatal shooting, spokesperson Ed Griffith reportedly told the publication, “We are very close to coming to a decision.” In the meantime, Kinsey has a federal lawsuit pending against the department and Aleppo.
Watch Kinsey talk about the shooting on an episdoe of OWN’s “For Peete’s Sake” below.