Therapist Sues Cop Who Shot Him While His Hands Were Raised

Ashley Harrell | Courthouse News Service

The unarmed black therapist who was lying on his back with his hands raised when he was shot by a South Florida police officer is suing the officer in federal court.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in Miami, Charles Kinsey claims North Miami SWAT Officer Aledda violated his civil rights, used excessive force and then carried out a false arrest during the July 18 incident.

Kinsey was shot while he was trying to assist Arnold Rios, a 26-year-old autistic patient who had been walking around North Miami streets carrying a white toy truck.

Kinsey’s shooting sparked outrage and fueled racial tension in a country already divided over recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, coupled with lethal attacks on police in Texas and Louisiana.

Kinsey insist Aledda had no reason whatsoever to shoot him, wrongly arrested him — again without cause — and failed to render aid, instead leaving a man he knew he wounded bleeding in the hot Florida sun, and cuffing one of his wrists so tightly that the circulation was cut off.

“As a result of Officer Aledda’s actions, Mr. Kinsey is unable to engage in certain physical activities, and has suffered damages, including but not limited to, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress,” the complaint says.

The events were set in motion with a 911 call to police from a passerby, who erroneously described the scene on the corner of NE 127th St. and NE 14th Ave. in North Miami.

“There’s this guy in the middle of the road, and he has what appears to be a gun,” a woman says in a recording released by police. “He has it to his head, and there’s a guy there trying to talk him out of it.”

The woman goes on to describe the men as a Spanish guy in gray pants and a black guy in a green shirt and black shorts. She explains that the Spanish guy looks like a mentally ill person and that black guy is attempting to help. Eventually, the caller questions whether a gun is present. “I don’t know if it’s a gun. But he has something the shape of a gun, so just be careful,” she says. “He’s sitting in the middle of the road.”

According to the lawsuit, police arrived on the scene, took assault rifles out of their trunks, and approached Kinsey and Rios in a military formation. Kinsey raised his hands in the air, told the officers that he and Rios were unarmed, and pleaded with them not to shoot, according to both the lawsuit and a widely circulated cell phone video of the incident.

The officers yelled to Kinsey, “Get down on the ground!” and he complied, laying flat with his hands in the air. He explained that he was a behavioral technician at a nearby group home and that Rios was his patient, a man with autism. Kinsey told the officers that no one was armed and that Rios was holding a toy truck.

“All officers, including Officer Aledda, were close enough in proximity to hear Mr. Kinsey’s statements, and one officer even announced over the police radio, ‘it’s a toy truck’ he’s saying it’s a toy truck,'” the complaint states.

For five minutes Kinsey complied with police and tried to explain the situation. But suddenly, without warning, Aledda fired three shots from his AR-15 assault rifle at Kinsey and struck him in the leg. Kinsey later told WSVN that the shooting came as a shock and felt like a mosquito bite. “As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not gonna shoot me, that’s what I was thinking,” he said. “Wow, was I wrong.”

Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera attempted to explain Aledda’s actions at a news conference, stating that the shooting was an accident and that the officer feared for Kinsey’s life. He had intended to hit the autistic “white” man, Rivera said. What he couldn’t explain was how after the shooting, officers placed Kinsey in facedown in handcuffs for 20 minutes while he bled.

“We don’t know the answers to all the questions,” Rivera said in a phone interview with Courthouse News Service. “We welcome an investigation … we just hope that everybody deals with facts, not sensationalism.”

Kinsey says that after he was shot, he asked to be moved from the hot pavement into a shaded area, and he asked for water, but the officers ignored his requests.


“Officer Aledda also failed to render aid after shooting Mr. Kinsey,” the suit says. “He did not place pressure on Mr. Kinsey’s wound or offer Mr. Kinsey a bandage.”

Kinsey seeks unspecified damages.

He is represented by Hilton Napoleon of Rasco, Klock, Perez, Nieto in Coral Gables, Florida.

The police union and Aledda’s attorney were not immediately available for comment Friday.

Published by Courthouse News Service.