Police union officials insisted in July that North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda shot Charles Kinsey — an unarmed black behavioral technician — by accident, believing that one of Kinsey's autistic patients was armed with a gun nearby.
"It appeared to the officers that the white male was trying to do harm to Mr. Kinsey," John Rivera, head of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, said at the time, according to the Miami New Times. "The officers, realizing and believing that there was a firearm — many officers thought the white male had a firearm."
But a newly uncovered audio recording casts doubt on this version of events. In an interview conducted by Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators with North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene, the chief reveals that Aledda was told there was no gun on the scene.
"[A] sergeant ... got on the air and said, 'I have a visual; it is a toy. Is it a toy? QRX.' That means 'Stand by; don't do anything,'" Eugene said in the hour-long recording, which was obtained by the Miami New Times on Tuesday. "Then there is a conversation back and forth. The next transmission was by [another officer saying] 'Shot fired!'"
This damning revelation came as investigators consider whether Aledda should face criminal charges for his role in the shooting. The officer shot Kinsey in the leg, injuring him, while Kinsey was lying on the ground with his hands up.
"All he has is a toy truck," Kinsey can be heard saying in a cellphone recording of the incident. "A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home."
The Kinsey shooting galvanized protesters, who had spent much of the previous two years demonstrating against police brutality. Eugene — who had been sworn in as police chief just six days before the shooting — added that his review of the incident revealed a pattern of collusion and mismanagement within the department. This allegedly included one commander who was present at the shooting, Emile Hollant, being bullied by another, who tried to get Hollant to change his version of events.
"He talked to Emile prior to the suspension and told him ... '[By] not saying you saw the guy loading the gun, do you realize that information could have helped my officer?'" Eugene said. "They were more concerned about clearing the officer of any wrongdoing than actually getting any impartial investigation."