MIAMI – A Florida police officer who shot an autistic man's caretaker was charged Wednesday with attempted manslaughter, authorities said.
North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda was also charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said in a news release. Aledda had been on administrative leave since last summer's shooting.
The Miami Herald (https://goo.gl/TKp8Qh ) reports that this is the first time prosecutors under Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle have charged a police officer for an on-duty shooting.
North Miami's police union continued to defend Aledda on Wednesday.
"In this case, we're going to be able to show how politically motivated, vindictive and incompetent ... the state attorney is," the Herald quoted John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, as saying. "The law is a very simple thing - intent. They're never going to be able to prove that this guy acted maliciously or recklessly in any way."
Aledda shot Charles Kinsey in the leg July 18 as he lay in the street next to his adult client, officials said. Arnaldo Rios had walked away from the group home where he lives, and Kinsey had followed Rios for more than a block trying to get him to return. Kinsey was trying to coax him back when a woman called 911 saying a suicidal man was walking down the street with a gun.
Cellphone video shows Kinsey lying on his back next to Rios with his hands up, screaming at officers that Rios is autistic and that the metal object in his hands was a toy truck.
After the video ended, Aledda fired three shots. Two missed but one struck Kinsey just above his left knee, went through his thigh and exited near his waist. Kinsey has since filed a federal lawsuit against North Miami.
According to an arrest warrant for Aledda, an investigation found that the officer was about 150 feet (45 meters) away from Kinsey when he fired. Two other officers had been within 20 feet (6 meters) of Kinsey and Rios and didn't feel threatened, investigators found.
The warrant also pointed out that Aledda's rifle was equipped only with standard iron sights, rather than a scope or other enhanced optical sights that might have made it possible to see that Rios was holding a toy.
Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com