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Officer says he meant to shoot autistic man, not black man with his arms raised

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 07: Demonstrators march through the Wynwood neighborhood as they protest police abuse on December 7, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The protest was one of many that have take place nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 07: Demonstrators march through the Wynwood neighborhood as they protest police abuse on December 7, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The protest was one of many that have take place nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

The North Miami police officer who shot Charles Kinsey on Monday now says his intention was to shoot the 23-year-old man with Kinsey, but according to North Miami Police, his bullet went astray.

The officer believed he was saving Kinsey’s life, but he accidentally shot him in the leg.

It is the latest in a long string of incidents of excessive police force being used against an unarmed black man being caught on video and going viral.

Moments before Kinsey was shot, he was laying in the middle of the road with his arms clearly raised and pleading with police not to shoot.

Kinsey works at an assisted living facility and was attempting to help an autistic man who had escaped from a group home. 

"It appeared to the officers that the white male was trying to do harm to Mr. Kinsey," John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association, told AOL.com. "In fearing for Mr. Kinsey's life, the officer discharged his firearm trying to save Mr. Kinsey's life, and he missed."

Rivera released a statement from the officer that said in part: “I took this job to save lives and help people. I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that and hate to hear others paint me as something I’m not.”

“This is a case where a police officer was trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life, and unfortunately, his shot went astray,” Rivera said.

Police responded to a 911 call about an armed man threatening suicide. The the autistic man, whose name is not being released by authorities, did not have a gun, but simply a toy truck.

According to the police union chief, the officer involved is described as a 30-year-old Hispanic man.

North Miami Police have not released the officer’s name, but the State Attorney has now taken over the investigation.

“I still got my hands in the air,” Kinsey said in an interview with 7News from his hospital bed Wednesday, “and I said, ‘I just got shot.’ I’m standing there like, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know.'”

Kinsey was released from the hospital Thursday night.

Monday's shooting comes amid weeks of violence involving police. Five officers were killed in Dallas two weeks ago and three law enforcement officers were gunned down Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That's where a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot during a scuffle with two white officers at a convenience store. 

In Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death by Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop. Cellphone videos captured Sterling's shooting and its aftermath, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.

At a news conference Thursday, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene did not detail who was involved or how many shots were fired. He confirmed that no gun was found.

"At my request, as of yesterday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is taking over this investigation," he said. "The State Attorney's Office is also looking at the case."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch also said Thursday that the Justice Department was aware of the incident and was working with local officials to glean more information.

Kinsey’s lawyer, Hilton Napoleon, is furious. “There’s no justification for shooting an unarmed person who’s talking to you and telling you that they don’t have a gun, and that they’re a mental health counselor,” Napoleon told 7News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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