Charles Kinsey was shot as he tried to help man with autism
Kinsey was treated and released
A man with autism, who was sitting next to his unarmed caregiver when police shot the latter in Florida, is so traumatized by the incident, he’s not eating or sleeping, his family says.
Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, 26, wandered away from his group home in North Miami last week – and became the latest image of the national debate about police shootings of unarmed men.
Charles Kinsey, his behavior therapist, was trying to help him Monday when police responded to a 911 call about a suicidal man with a gun.
A cell phone video released later showed Kinsey lying on the ground, his hands up in the air, while Rios sat nearby.
Kinsey said police shot him as he appealed to the officers that Rios had autism, and he was not holding a weapon.
“All he has is a toy truck … a toy truck,” he says in the video as he implores Rios to sit still.
” I’m a behavior therapist at a group home.”
Family: ‘He was so devastated’
While Rios was not shot, his injuries go much deeper, his family said.
“The next day, he was so upset, he was so devastated, he went right back to where Mr. Kinsey was shot,” said attorney Matthew Dietz, who represents the family.
“Where there was blood on the street and he started pounding the ground, and crying and shouting.”
Rios was transferred to a psychiatric home after he returned to the scene of the shooting, according to Dietz.
Dietz said since Rios cannot talk and only says a few words, he has no outlet to address what happened that day.
“His injuries are long lasting because he does not have a method to deal with them,” the attorney said.
“If this police department had adequate training, this would not have happened,” Dietz said. “… They should have known we may have a person with autism.”
The family said Rios needs therapy, but instead is in a psychiatric hospital.
“They are trying to blame it on him, like he was suicidal or was trying to hurt Charles,” his sister Miriam Rios said at a news conference Friday. But Rios considered Kinsey a father figure, and has asked about him regularly.
Kinsey was treated and released Thursday, days after the incident.
“He’s still traumatized, he’s having night terrors,” Rios’ sister said. “He’s not sleeping, he’s not eating. He’s not the same anymore.”
Since the shooting, his sister said, he’s still wearing the same blood-splattered clothes he had on that day.
Police union explains shooting
The police officer who shot Kinsey has been identified as Jonathan Aledda, a four-year veteran and a member of the SWAT team. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Last week, the police union representing him said a video of the shooting doesn’t tell the whole story.
The officer had been aiming for Rios – not Kinsey, the union said. The officer thought Rios posed a danger, said John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association.
The explanation did not make Rios’ mother feel any better.
“When she found out her son was the target of the shooting in North Miami, it devastated her. It made her son less than human,” the family attorney said.
“Arnaldo is a human being who is entitled to live in the community.”
A second police officer has also been placed on administrative leave without pay after giving conflicting statements to investigators.
Mayor Smith Joseph has apologized to the wounded man and promised a complete investigation of the shooting.
But the police union chief said the video footage does not tell the whole story.
“This is not a case of a rogue cop. This is not a case of police abuse,” he said. “This is a case where a police officer was trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life, and unfortunately, his shot went astray.”
Video of the shooting itself hasn’t surfaced.
CNN’s Jackie Castillo and Catherine Shoichet contributed to this report.