Black therapist shot by North Miami police while helping patient.
Questions are being asked as to why North Miami police shot a black therapist on Monday while he was assisting an autistic patient. Video footage released on Wednesday shows behavioural therapist Charles Kinsey of MacTown Panther Group Homes, lying on his back and complying with police instructions moments before he was shot.
An autistic patient of Mr Kinsey’s wandered away from his group home on Monday and sat in the middle of a road. Mr Kinsey followed his patient outside to help him, as per his job. At the same time North Miami Police received a call saying an armed man was threatening suicide near Northeast 14th Avenue and Northeast 127th Street – the same location Mr Kinsey was assisting his patient.
In the video, Mr Kinsey responds to the requests of police officers and lies down on the road, putting his arms in the air. Worried that police would mistake his patient’s white toy truck as a gun, Mr Kinsey remains lying down but tells police,
“Don’t shoot me. All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavioural therapist at a group home.”
He then attempts to talk his patient into also lying down on the road.
Moments later Mr Kinsey was shot in the leg by a yet unnamed police officer. He was then flipped onto his stomach and handcuffed, while still bleeding from the gunshot wound in his leg.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Kinsey says he was completely surprised by the shooting. Throughout the incident his concern was for his patient, wrongly believing that as long as he complied with police instructions he would be safe.
“I was more worried about him [Kinsey’s autistic patient] than myself.”
“This is what I’m thinking – as long I’ve got my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow was I wrong.”
The shooting comes only weeks after police were filmed fatally shooting Anton Sterling and Philando Castille in two separate incidents. The shootings sparked protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in Dallas,Texas, which left five police officers dead after an unaffiliated sniper opened fire. The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012 after black teenager Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer after visiting a convenience store. In the United States, black citizens are more than twice as likely to be shot dead by police despite making up only 13% of the population.
The North Miami Police Department have placed the officer who shot Charles Kinsey on administrative leave. The incident is also being investigated by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.