23-year-old Arnaldo Soto, a man with autism, was playing with a toy truck when police arrived at the scene in Miami last July. The truck was believed to be a firearm by passersby who called officers to the apprehend Soto and his behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey. As officers drew closer to the two men, Kinsey lay down on his back with his hands up in the air and told officers that it was just a toy that Soto had, not a weapon.
One officer, only 15-20 feet away, relayed this information to others over radio; approaching even closer, the same officer confirmed Kinsey’s statement and said he had a visual that the item in question was not a firearm. In the minutes following that information, Officer Jonathon Aledda fired three shots at Kinsey, who was still on his back unarmed. One of the bullets struck his right leg. Minutes later, Kinsey asked the officer why he shot him and the officer reportedly said, “I don’t know.”
Kinsey was left handcuffed and bleeding on the street for 20 minutes before medics arrived at the scene, according to attorney Hilton Napoleon II. Cell phone video footage of this incident was released online shortly thereafter by Napoleon, which prompted national outrage immediately on social media. Mayor Smith Joseph called for a thorough investigation into the incident and issued an apology to Kinsey for the shooting.
In the days following the release of the cell phone video, a police union president, John Rivera, spoke out and claimed that the video footage did not paint the entire picture. Officer Aledda, said Rivera, had been aiming for the autistic man, not Kinsey, when he fired those three shots. Kinsey later said that he repeatedly tried to convince police not to shoot Soto, about whom he says, “I was more worried about him than myself,” in an interview with WSVN. On April 12, months after the shooting and release of the footage, Officer Aledda has been charged with attempted manslaughter and culpable negligence according to an arrest affidavit.