A North Miami Police 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 won't be spending time in prison.
At a hearing Wednesday, Officer Jonathan Aledda was sentenced to one year of administrative probation and told he must complete 100 hours of community service related to the developmentally disabled. Aledda also must write an essay about better radio communication at police scenes.
Aledda was found guilty last month of culpable negligence in the 2016 shooting of caretaker Charles Kinsey but was acquitted on the more serious charges. He had been facing up to a year in prison.
"Protecting all the residents of Miami-Dade is a duty assumed by every police officer every day. Policing can be a very dangerous job. However, this case indicates our community’s belief that, on a daily basis, thought and attention should be a part of every action undertaken," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement Wednesday.
Before the sentence was handed down, Aledda made a tearful plea to the judge.
"My life got turned upside down. I felt terrible for Mr. Kinsey, for the injury I caused, that was the last intention I had that day. It was actually the opposite of what I was trying to do," he said. "I was trying to save his life, not hurt him in any way."
But prosecutor Don Horn had a different view.
"His conduct was gross and flagrant, his course of conduct that day showed reckless disregard for human life," Horn said. "It showed reckless disregard for the safety of persons exposed to his dangerous effect. It showed grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public."
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 at his second trial that he thought it was a hostage situation and he needed to fire to protect Kinsey and his fellow officers. A March trial had ended with a hung jury.
The police department has placed Aledda on administrative leave without pay and said he was given a notice of intent to terminate.