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Florida police shoot unarmed black therapist who was trying to calm patient

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  • Charles Kinsey explained on Wednesday in an interview from his hospital bed in Miami what happened when he was shot by police on Monday. Kinsey, a therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient in the middle of the street, said he was shot even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told the police that no one was armed. (WSVN via AP)

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. » A black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic man in the middle of the street says he was shot by police even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them that no one was armed.

The moments before the shooting were recorded on cellphone video and show Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the standoff with officers, who appeared to have them surrounded.

“As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking. They’re not going to shoot me,” he told WSVN-TV from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg. “Wow, was I wrong.”

The 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. Before those shootings, 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 during a traffic stop. Cellphone videos captured Sterling’s killing and aftermath of Castile’s shooting, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.

At a news conference today, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said the investigation had been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the office of the state’s attorney. He called it a “very sensitive matter” and promised a transparent investigation, but he refused to identify the officer or answer reporters’ questions.

“I realize there are many questions about what happened on Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, we as a member of this police department and I also have questions,” he said. “I assure you we will get all the answers.”

The chief said officers responded following reports of a man with a gun threatening to kill himself, and the officers arrived “with that threat in mind” — but no gun was recovered.

Kinsey, 47, said he was trying to coax his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from which he had wandered. Police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground.

“Lay down on your stomach,” Kinsey says to his patient in the video, which was shot from a distance and provided to the Miami Herald on Wednesday. “Shut up!” responds the patient, who is sitting cross-legged in the road, playing with his toy.

“He has a toy truck in his hand! A toy truck!” Kinsey says to officers who have their guns drawn. Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself.

An officer later fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, assistant police chief Neal Cuevas told the newspaper.

“I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand,” Kinsey said.

“When he shot me, it was so surprising … It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I’m like, I still got my hands in the air, and I said, ‘No, I just got shot,’” Kinsey said.

After the shooting, Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and the officer said “‘I don’t know.’”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters the Justice Department is aware of the shooting and working with local law enforcement to gather all of the facts and to decide how to proceed.

“We don’t know enough about it at this point in time,” she said, when asked whether federal authorities would begin their own investigation.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson represents the area and said she was in shock after watching the video.

“From what I saw, he was lying on the ground with his hands up. Freezing. But he was still shot,” she said.

“This is not typical of North Miami,” she said. “We’re not accustomed to this tension. … This cannot happen again.”

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard.

Kinsey’s attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided the cellphone video to the Herald.

In an interview with The Associated Press, he declined to say from whom he had obtained the video.

The video does not show the moment of the shooting, and Napoleon said there was about a two-minute gap in which the person who shot the video had switched off, thinking nothing more noteworthy would happen. It then briefly shows the aftermath of the shooting.

Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

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    • Is the cop afflicted with PTSD just like the Dallas cop klller? Dangerous combination of mentally ill war veterans, applicants with only high school degrees receiving college level pay, surplus war armaments, personnel carriers, body armor, explosive robots, hollow point bullets, license to kill, immunity from speeding tickets, and cocky attitude. Very lucky man to be shot only in the leg. Now you can retire early with a nice lawsuit. Autistic people are just way too much trouble for the low pay it provides. God loves you. 🙂

        • So do a lot of people in prison. There was also a study done where it was suggested those living in violent, inner city neighborhoods have PTSD on a similar level to combat veterans. Really anyone can have it.

      • Although I can’t see how this shooting could possibly be justified, the actual shooting wasn’t caught on video. Wonder what could possibly be an official explanation for this shooting.

    • Kira, Please save that kind of talk for the comic section. This is a bad shoot. Period…. seasoned police office do not make this kinds of mistakes or take a shot at someone with his hand up. There is no threat of danger to the police officer. This is not about being edgy. This is routine call made thousands of times a day in various jurisdictions. Police come upon these kinds of incidents daily.

    • With all that’s gone down in the past few weeks I’d expect that cops would be more hesitant about shooting someone whose hands were up in the air.

      • “there was about a two-minute gap in which the person who shot the video had switched off, ”

        It looks bad from what we saw before, but without this we do not have all the facts.

        • Facts:
          1. Neither the doctor nor the autistic guy had a gun.
          2. Nothing/no one was a threat to the police.
          3. Doctor told the police there was no guns.
          4. Doctor told police no need for firepower.
          5. Only Police brought guns to the party.
          6. Only the police fired a gun at unarmed civilians.

          Looks like we got some facts there now Cricket. Still looks bad on the part of the police!

        • We have the advantage of knowing facts after the facts become known. Let’s not judge before ALL the facts are known. Easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but be an absolute chicken without a head in real time game situation.

        • Dsl, all you “facts” are just a reporter’s version of the facts. Can’t you wait?

        • dsl (below) — add one fact:

          The chief said officers responded following reports of a man with a gun threatening to kill himself, and the officers arrived “with that threat in mind” — but no gun was recovered.

        • So it turns out that the cop that discharged his weapon was aiming for the unarmed autistic man (I don’t think the toy gun was loaded). But the cops were advised by the doctor that there were no guns. So why did he shoot? Yet the chief of police stated that he was trying to save the life of the doctor and that his aim was off. So, how much more facts do we need? It’s still a pisser because the cop shot at unarmed people!!! So, if you bleeding heart, cop-loving folks need more facts then I just don’t know. Why was he shooting at unarmed people? I do care justmyview I care about the innocent lives placed in danger everytime a FN cop shows up!! AdmrVT – so the cops show up ready to shoot someone based on just the report? They don’t attempt to get more information? This is why people in this country don’t trust cops. They protect and serve themselves.

        • Just one more fact before I let go of this – Per Police union man Rivera, “This is not a case of police brutality.” You will hear the same from the police chief I’m sure. American people are up against the very people that are hired to protect them. PAU!!

        • dsl, If you are well informed and your information is true then justice must pursue the guilty. If. By using this information to condemn all officers good or bad by stating “This is why people in this country don’t trust cops. They protect and serve themselves.” what are you promoting? We are not “cop lovers” but just maybe supporters of law and order. “Bleeding hearts” I think not. Criminals must pay for their crimes.

    • Hard to know what happened until all the facts are in. But that said, this looks like a rookie mistake. An overreaction. Too many cops lack adequate training.

    • I think the Florida AG should be held directly responsible for this and other bad incidents. The same female AG who said Hilary is directly responsible for the Benghazi deaths.

      • your going to pull hillary into this saying that because this person spoke out against hillary they gotta be a bad person how do you defend all the american lives that were lossed because of hillary why dont you be honest with yourself your gonna vote for hillary cause shes a woman you have no actual knowledge of her as an actual politician you dont know the atrocities she has caused guess what just because shes a woman isnt a reason for her being elected just admit it already not saying trump is much better but at least he hasnt already let american soldiers die he didnt try to hide emails on his computer that shouldnt have even being on the computer you know what i dont know what the point is of arguing with you people because you dont listen to reason

  • And the police wonder WHY they are not trusted and almost hated ?? Ask the public what kind of interaction they’ve had with MOST police officers and they will say unpleasant AT BEST !!! Old police/law enforcement emphasized familiarity with their beat, socialize with neighborhood children, participate in sports to get to know the parents. In other words, be a DECENT, CARING, COMPASSIONATE police force. Now, by and large, the police are an arrogant, bunch of bullies that think because they have a badge and a gun, they can treat people in the MOST humiliating fashion possible.
    Hawaii is lucky our police are MUCH better than the mainland, but they are far from perfect. MY personal experience with the police, since the 1970s, have been uncomfortable AT BEST. But at least we don’t have to fear the LIKELIHOOD of being shot like the Mainland is !!! Time for law enforcement to look inwards and understand WHY they are mistrusted, feared, and disrespected. Seems they are just as at fault as criminals.

    • Who isn’t far from perfect? After being a juror here, I’ve seen the miserable lowlifes the police have to deal with.

      Likelihood of being shot: I think a lightening strike is more likely or winning the lottery. I agree the above instance looks very bad and I’ve read of other clear mistakes/abuses, but the press does this to us, this being showing nothing but the errors/mistakes/abuses without any context at all regarding the thousands of police interactions that result in nothing.

      i’m not saying there’s no problem, just that emotional overreaction has gotten us to where we are. The whole Ferguson Mo thing, for example, was fueled by reaction to a pack of lies. Same with the Trayvon Martin event. Now’s the time for serious, fact based problem solving.

  • This line is just so much SMH: After the shooting, Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and the officer said “‘I don’t know.’”

  • Where do they find these cops that they hire?? Geezus, no common sense or intelligence whatsoever….don’t give me this ‘BALONEY” that due to recent events, cops are jittery. Heck, cops were shooting innocent victims way before all these latest police shootings occurred. These cops are just ignorant as much as those that work for TSA, also. Just no intelligence or common sense.

      • This one is a little different. I can seen the dangers of responding to something like a domestic violence call where you don’t really know who is armed, the circumstances of the disturbance, and how many people are involved. But in this case the dude was lying on his back with his arms in the air. I would imagine if you were to take position when the guy was shot you would be wondering why the shot was fired as well. Yes everyone is Monday morning quarterbacking on this one because the circumstances surround the shooting appear to be outrageous. Perhaps if the police don’t like people second guessing them, they should avoid shooting unarmed men who are lying on the back in the middle of the street with their arms in the air.

        • A few days ago in a neighboring state, three officers killed in an ambush. Yup, I think a lot of law enforcement officers are a little jittery right now.

        • I don’t think the cops were in fear of their own lives. It would be my opinion that the cops were in fear of the autistic patient not knowing the relationship between the two. You can never be sure a person is unarmed until after the fact, which can be a fatal mistake. Let’s wait to hear more after the investigation.

        • Primo, apparently the cop didn’t think the autistic man was a threat. But at this point who knows why he fired at the therapist. Let it be investigated.

        • I know a lot of cops and I assure you they do NOT want to shoot anybody. They want to go home at the end of the day to see their family and loved ones just like you. Their job involves dealing with the worst people you can imagine every day. People we only see and hear of in the news. Let’s wait for more facts other than the sensationalism of a news report.

    • Start hiring cops with college degrees. They are educated and mentally disciplined to make quick and correct decisions. A degree is proof of having fulfilled the higher level of intelligence. We make better husbands and don’t shoot our wives, stand up straight all the time, exercise our minds with continuing education, keep our bodies fit with yoga, jiu jitsu, judo, karate, boxing, and don’t let our bodies get potbellied like pigs who eat donuts, pay attention when we are at accident or construction sites and don’t sleep with our eyes open or waste time talking fishing or women stories for hours on end, and treat our taxpayers with respect because they are the ones paying our college level salaries. HPD can start by requiring college level entrance exams or college scholastic aptitude tests. No problem finding them. They’re required testing for all colleges. Helps to week out the smart from the dumbos.

  • Either it’s a failure to train properly…..poor or bad decision making when to use force….or the officer is trigger happy and unfit for this type of work…..or combination of both….

      • What relevance is that to the shooting?…the victim clearly had his hands up with no weapon….the officer who shot the victim is going to be hard pressed to justify using deadly force……

        • Certainly looks this way.


          “there was about a two-minute gap in which the person who shot the video had switched off, ”

          This video is apparently missing the actual shooting.

        • Yeah be there are witness statements that say the dude had his hands up at the time. Heck not even the cops are defending the shooting.

        • Cheesey, it looks to me that the cops were in fear for the autistic person adjacent. The shot was not to protect themselves but to protect the patient? Don’t know yet.

  • Unbelievably stupid cops these days. Unbelievably stupid gun lobby that makes theses cops so scared.

    We should bring some civility to our streets by repealing the Second Amendment.

  • I think Honolulu’s police officers are very professional. I’m glad we have a good police force here. Yeah like every group there are a few bad apples, and our Chief of Police really should consider a new line of work, but the rank and file officers are good guys and gals who do a tough job.

    • whaaat?? You mean the HPD “professionals” hiding in the downtown doorways giving out jay-walking tickets? Or the one’s dressed as civilians crossing the street 100 time to see who stops and who doesn’t? Gimme a break!

        • stake out? lol!! I got nothing to hide but I do know that there’s so many ills in our city such as drug dealers/pushers, rapes, thefts, robbery, gambling, etc but the cops only pursue those that involves fines such as jaywalking, no seat belt, not stopping in the proper place to let people cross the street…If you’e not in downtown Honolulu you won’t see these cops hiding in doorways to catch people jay-walking over hotel street (oh no big crime). Why wait until someone jaywalks, why not stop them before they do it? I mean, they are right there watching the jaywalker, why not go up to them or stand where they can be seen to deter unwanted behavior? That’s right – cannot give em a ticket, cannot collect a fine…

    • HPD has one of the best training programs for a city this size (11th largest department) in the country. That’s why mainland jurisdictions like to hire HPD officers. It’s a huge monetary saving, particularly for smaller departments not to have to do introductory training. It’s also a plus that HPD officers have more experience with cultural diversity than a lot of other departments. (Not at the level of LAPD or NYPD/John Jay but pretty darn good.)

        • Basically National reputation and opinion of chiefs of police throughout the country.

        • Thanks for the reply. Again, sorry not trying to be argumentative, but would you please share your source(s) for the opinions? Either an article or maybe in your capacity as an educator, you had access to these chiefs? I’d be interested to see if they opined on jurisdictions with poor training.

    • I agree Cheesey. If you give them attitude they will return it. If you’ve been stopped it is because you were breaking the law. The place to fight your case is in court not with the cop.

  • THIS COP IS IN THE “DEEPEST OF KIM CHEE” IMAGINABLE … He will get convicted and go to jail … the black inmates will tear him apart and he won’t have his service weapon to protect him …

  • We all lucky, cuz if all these riots, shootings and cop ambushes were taking place in the 50th State; it would be open season for HPD, and pineapple heads would be the targets!

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