The North Miami Police Department is working to fire an officer who was convicted of a misdemeanor but acquitted of attempted manslaughter for shooting at a severely autistic man and wounding the man's caretaker.
Officer Jonathan Aledda was found guilty Monday of culpable negligence in the 2016 shooting of caretaker Charles Kinsey and faces up to a year in jail but was acquitted on the more serious charges.
In a statement Tuesday, the police department said Aledda was placed on administrative leave without pay and was given a notice of intent to terminate.
"We respect the Criminal Justice System, and we are empathetic to the feelings of all who have been affected by this tragic incident. This case has impacted us all as a community," the department said in a statement. "The North Miami Police Department will continue its mission of building community trust and partnerships. Together, we will progress through healing and peace."
Kinsey was trying to protect 27-year-old Arnaldo Rios Soto when he was shot. Rios fled his group home carrying a shiny silver toy truck and Kinsey went after him. Rios sat down in the street, playing with the truck, and a passer-by reported he was possibly armed. Police soon surrounded Rios and Kinsey at a residential neighborhood intersection.
Video taken by a bystander showed Rios sitting with the truck. Kinsey lay on his back next to him with his hands in the air, begging officers not to shoot. Rios shouted "shut up." The video ended before the shooting.
Aledda, armed with a rifle, took cover behind a car 50 yards away. Two officers who were closer to Kinsey and Rios said they could tell the silver object was a toy, but a commander radioed that it appeared Rios was reloading.
Aledda fired three shots at Rios. Two missed but one hit Kinsey in the leg.
Aledda testified Monday that he thought it was a hostage situation and he needed to fire to protect Kinsey and his fellow officers.
"It appeared he (Kinsey) was screaming for mercy or for help or something. In my mind, the white male had a gun," Aledda testified
Prosecutor Don Horn called the verdict "fair," while Aledda's attorney said he was disappointed.
"We thought he should have never been charged," Douglas Hartman said. A March trial had ended with a hung jury.