Though North Miami police and city leaders have mostly clammed up about the specifics of last week’s shooting of healthcare professional Charles Kinsey, the city hasn’t been shy about sharing the public’s thoughts.
Make a call to the police department about the July 18th incident, and it’s a good bet those comments will soon be available for all the world to hear.
Listening to them is as easy as going to NorthMiamiPolice.com, clicking on the newsroom site and accessing the voice messages link. City Manager Larry Spring decided to create a message board so residents would know the city is listening, said North Miami police spokeswoman Natalie Buissereth.
“They’re saying everything, good and bad. We’re listening. We’re here,” she said.
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Most of the messages — at least on the board — haven’t been kind to police.
They find fault with SWAT member Jonathan Aledda’s decision to fire his assault rifle at Kinsey three times as he lay in the street with his hands up in the air, autistic patient Arnaldo Eliud Rios sitting cross-legged and playing with a toy truck, at his side.
Police said they were led to North Miami by a 911 call from someone who said there was a person in the road with a gun threatening to hurt himself. The 911 call has yet to be released. When Aledda and other officers arrived, they found Kinsey standing with Rios next to him on the ground.
They ordered both men to lie down. Kinsey obeyed. Rios did not.
Video taken by a cellphone camera clearly shows Kinsey telling police there is no gun and his patient has autism. He also begs Rios to lie down. He never did. Aledda opened fire and struck Kinsey once in the leg. The police union chief later said Aledda was aiming for Rios because he believed he was a threat to Kinsey, but missed.
Aledda is on administrative leave. Another officer, Cmdr. Emile Hollant, was suspended without pay for misleading investigators. Sources say he transmitted that one of the men was loading a weapon, then during the following investigation said he wasn’t at the scene when Aledda fired his weapon.
Since the incident, North Miami has allowed the public to voice its opinions.
Police consider one of those calls a threat. Whether it is or not is questionable. But the public knows it’s considered a threat because North Miami divided the voice mails into categories that include threats, comments and questions.
“I’m just curious how a guy is laying on the ground and somebody shoots... But I’d hate for us to turn into the next Baton Rouge,” said an unidentified male voice who fit the department’s threat category.
On July 17 a former Marine named Gavin Long ambushed Baton Rouge police and killed three officers with an assault rifle.
That comment regarding Baton Rouge is the exception. The others are just people trying to figure out what went wrong and usually expressing their distaste at how the event unfolded. That was the case with a 49 second message from an angry man who wanted the entire department disbanded.
“So we’re supposed to believe this bulls--- about the cops shooting the autistic guy because he thought the truck was a gun and he was going to shoot the black guy? You people got the spin on this story and you people are f------ sick to think the public is going to back you on this.”
Other callers aren’t quite as angry — but the shooting strikes home for them. That was the situation with one caller who spent more than a minute expressing his thoughts, then finally concluded that the shooting was “unacceptable and disgusting.”
“Hi, as a parent of a child with autism, I would strongly suggest you implement some training for your force in dealing with patients with developmental disabilities such as autism,” said another unidentified man. “ Patients with autism are often prone to having a hard time listening and will run away and become combative. It doesn’t necessarily mean they need to get shot.”