Florida Attorney General authorities are investigating an incident from Monday during which an African-American behavioral therapist was shot by a North Miami police officer while the therapist said he sat with hands that were empty and raised at the time beside an autistic man in a street, who had wandered away from a group home. Police were called into the scene because the autistic man was blocking traffic.
"All he (the autistic man) has is a toy truck in his hand," Charles Kinsey, the therapist lying on his back, said he yelled at two police officers standing behind telephone poles just a few dozen feet away, according to The Washington Post. "That's all it is. There is no need for guns."
Kinsey works at the group home care facility from which this unidentified, 23-year-old resident strayed.
Officers responded to a call of an armed suspect threatening suicide, the North Miami Police Department said in a statement, reports Yahoo.
While the shooting was not captured on camera, a recording showing moments before the gunshots depicted a man lying on his back on the ground, his hands in the air, while another man sits near him cross-legged. That recording since went viral on social media. After the recording stopped, one of the officers fired three shots, hitting Kinsey at least once in one leg.
"When it hit me, I'm like, I still got my hands in the air," Kinsey said in an interview from his hospital bed with WSVN-TV.
Police have not stated why the officer fired, according to The Washington Post, although a police union representative said Thursday the officer, who has not been identified and who has been placed on administrative leave, was aiming for the man with autism and trying to protect Kinsey because he thought the man sitting up was armed with a gun.
In moments recorded during the encounter Monday, Kinsey can be heard trying to calm the man with autism sitting next to him.
A second recording taken after the gunshots shows Kinsey and the man with autism being handcuffed.
According to Kinsey, the officer who fired the shots seemed confused by what happened. "'Sir, why did you shoot me?'" Kinsey recalled asking the officer. "He said, 'I don't know.'"
"The straw that really breaks the camel's back, that makes it even more frustrating, is that after my client was shot, they handcuffed him and left him on the hot Miami summer pavement for 20 minutes while fire rescue came and while he was bleeding out," Kinsey's attorney Hilton Napoleon told The Washington Post, saying he hoped to negotiate a settlement with police department.