Shooting of black therapist: Officer 'thought autistic patient was going for gun'

It has been claimed the officer who shot a black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient meant to shoot the patient instead.

Shooting of black therapist: Officer 'thought autistic patient was going for gun'

It has been claimed the officer who shot a black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient meant to shoot the patient instead.

Therapist Charles Kinsey (47) was shot in the leg in the incident, and is recovering in hospital. Video footage captures the moments before the shooting, and its aftermath, but not the shooting itself.

The officer who shot three bullets, though only one is thought to have hit Mr Kinsey, is a 30-year-old Hispanic male with four years' police experience.

He released a statement which did not apologise for the shooting but said: "I took this job to save lives and help people.

"I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that and hate to hear others paint me as something I’m not."

Mr Kinsey works with people with disabilities, was trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from where he had wandered, when the shooting occurred.

John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association has said the shooting "was not a mistake".

"This wasn't a mistake in the sense that the officer shot the wrong guy or he thought that Kinsey was the bad guy," Mr Rivera told CNN.

"The movement of the white individual [the autistic patient Mr Kinsey was looking after] made it look like he was going to discharge a fire arm into Mr Kinsey and the officer discharged trying to strike and stop the white man and unfortunately, he missed the white male and shot Mr Kinsey by accident."

"Mr Kinsey did everything right, let's be real clear about that," Mr Rivera said.

He added the officer who shot him "wishes nothing but the best for Mr Kinsey and the officer is praying for his speedy recovery as are we".

At a news conference, north Miami police chief Gary Eugene said the investigation into the latest incident had been handed 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 and thorough investigation, but he refused to identify the officer or answer questions.

"I realise 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 from the scene.

Mr Kinsey, 47, said he was trying to coax his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from which he had wandered. Police ordered Mr 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," Mr Kinsey says to his patient in the video, which was shot from a distance.

"Shut up," responds the patient.

Mr Kinsey is then heard to tell officers, who had their guns drawn: "He has a toy truck in his hand! A toy truck!"

An officer then fired three times, striking Mr Kinsey in the leg, assistant police chief Neal Cuevas said. The video posted on websites does not include the moment of the shooting.

"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," Mr 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'."

After the shooting, Mr Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and he said "I don't know".

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

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