On Monday, the police shooting of African-American behavior therapist Charles Kinsey was caught on a witness’s cell phone video and went viral Thursday. The video sparked outrage nationwide as an apparent example of excessive policing against an unarmed black man.
Kinsey was shot late Monday afternoon by a North Miami police officer who may have been aiming at a 23-year-old autistic man who was playing with a toy truck and not responding to orders to lie on the ground. The incident began, according to police, when someone called 911 to say that a man was in the roadway at Northeast 127th Street and 14th Avenue with a gun and was threatening to kill himself.
The man turned out to be someone with autism who had wandered away from a nearby mental health clinic about a block away and who had sat down in the street playing with a toy. Kinsey, who was caring for the man, said he made his way to the street to try and coax him back into the building.
But police arrived before the man got up and ordered both men to the ground. A cell phone video provided by Kinsey’s attorney Hilton Napoleon clearly shows Kinsey lying on the ground with both his arms raised. The autistic man beside him, sat cross-legged and upright with the toy truck in his hand. An officer fired his weapon, three times according to North Miami police.
One of the bullets struck Kinsey in the leg. After the shooting, a second cellphone video clip shows police rolling Kinsey and the autistic man over on the ground, searching them and handcuffing Kinsey.
On Thursday, Haitian North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene declined to identify the officer who shot Kinsley. Eugene said during a press conference that the North Miami Police Department turned the case over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday morning.
“I realize there are many questions about what happened Monday night,” Eugene said. “You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, and as a member of this police department, I also have questions. I assure you, we will get all the answers.”
Eugene declined requests from reporters to give the name of the officer, or any information on the officer’s race. Eugene refuse to answer questions on whether the officer was aiming at the 23-year-old autistic man playing with a toy truck while sitting in the roadway, or if he had set his sights on the victim, Charles Kinsey.
On Thursday, three days after he was shot, 47-year-old Charles Kinsey remained at Jackson Memorial Hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg. He is expected to be released this week.