A North Miami police officer has been found guilty of culpable negligence but was acquitted by a jury on two more serious felonies in connection with a 2016 shooting that wounded the caretaker of an autistic man.
Officer Jonathan Aledda was found not guilty of two counts of attempted manslaughter in the shooting of Charles Kinsey, who was caring for Arnaldo Rios Soto, a severely autistic man who had wandered away from his group home for mentally disabled adults.
Rios was carrying a tiny toy truck that Aledda maintained he mistook for a firearm even though officers at the trial testified that radio communication had clarified that the toy was not a gun.
The July 18, 2016, daytime shooting drew national attention amid a rash of police killings of unarmed black men.
Aledda was one of six officers who responded to a call of a possibly suicidal man. A motorist passing by had called 911 to report a man with a possible gun pointing to his head.
According to the investigator’s affidavit, the officers had expected to confront a suicidal man armed with a gun.
Aledda testified that when he encountered Kinsey and Soto in the street, he thought Rios was holding Kinsey hostage. The officer, who fired three times, said he had intended to hit Soto.
In cellphone video from the scene that went viral, Kinsey is shown shot in the leg and laying on the ground next to his patient, his hands in the air.
“It appeared he was screaming for mercy or for help or something. In my mind, the white male had a gun,” Aledda testified on Monday, referring to Rios. “I couldn’t hear what the black man was saying. In my mind, I thought he might get shot.”
Aledda was first tried in March, but jurors deadlocked on three of the four charges.
He could spend up to a year behind bars for the misdemeanor count of culpable negligence, according to the Miami Herald. But since the charge is minor, Aledda may still be able to remain a police officer.