Black ther­a­pist says police shot him with his hands up

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - TERRY SPENCER

MI­AMI — A black ther­a­pist who was try­ing to calm an autistic man in the mid­dle of the street says he was shot by police even though he had his hands in the air and re­peat­edly told them that no one was armed.

The mo­ments be­fore the shoot­ing were recorded on cell­phone video and show Charles Kin­sey ly­ing on the ground with his arms raised, talk­ing to his pa­tient and police through­out the stand­off with of­fi­cers, who ap­peared to have them sur­rounded.

“As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not go­ing to shoot me. This is what I’m think­ing. They’re not go­ing to shoot me,” he told a lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tion from his hos­pi­tal bed, where he was re­cov­er­ing from a gun­shot wound to his leg. “Wow, was I wrong.”

The shoot­ing comes amid weeks of vi­o­lence in­volv­ing police. Five of­fi­cers were killed in Dal­las two weeks ago and three law en­force­ment of­fi­cers were gunned down Sun­day in Ba­ton Rouge, Louisiana. Be­fore those shoot­ings, a black man, Al­ton Ster­ling, 37, was fa­tally shot dur­ing a scuf­fle with two white of­fi­cers at a con­ve­nience store. In Min­nesota, 32-year-old Phi­lando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death dur­ing a traf­fic stop. Cell­phone videos cap­tured Ster­ling’s killing and af­ter­math of Castile’s shoot­ing, prompt­ing na­tion­wide protests over the treat­ment of blacks by police.

At a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day, North Mi­ami Police Chief Gary Eu­gene said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been turned over to the Florida Depart­ment of Law En­force­ment and the lo­cal state at­tor­ney. He called it a “very sen­si­tive mat­ter” and promised a trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but he re­fused to iden­tify the of­fi­cer or an­swer re­porters’ ques­tions. Eu­gene, a Haitian-Amer­i­can with 30 years of South Florida police ex­pe­ri­ence, just be­came chief last week.

“I re­al­ize 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 after get­ting a 911 call about a man with a gun threat­en­ing to kill him­self, and the of­fi­cers ar­rived “with that threat in mind” — but no gun was re­cov­ered.

The video does not show the mo­ment of the shoot­ing. Kin­sey’s at­tor­ney, Hil­ton Napoleon II, said there was about a two-minute gap in which the per­son who shot the video had switched off, think­ing nothing more note­wor­thy would hap­pen. It then briefly shows the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing. He would not say who gave him the video.

Kin­sey, 47, said he was try­ing to coax his 27-year-old pa­tient back to a nearby fa­cil­ity that he had wan­dered from. Police or­dered 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,” Kin­sey says to his pa­tient in the video, which was shot from about 10 me­tres away and pro­vided to the Mi­ami Her­ald. “Shut up!” re­sponds the pa­tient, who is sit­ting cross­legged in the road.

Kin­sey said he was more wor­ried about his pa­tient than him­self.

“I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m un­armed, he’s an autistic guy. He’s got a toy truck in his hand,” Kin­sey said.

An of­fi­cer later fired three times, strik­ing Kin­sey in the leg, as­sis­tant police chief Neal Cuevas told the news­pa­per.

After the shoot­ing, Kin­sey said he asked an of­fi­cer why he was shot and the of­fi­cer said “‘I don’t know.’”

Napoleon said of­fi­cers hand­cuffed Kin­sey and left him ly­ing in the street on his stom­ach for 20 min­utes with­out ren­der­ing first aid.

North Mi­ami has a pop­u­la­tion of about 62,000 peo­ple, nearly 60 per cent African-Amer­i­can. The shoot­ing took place in a racially mixed, lower-in­come area of the city.

Wit­nesses told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day that at least four North Mi­ami of­fi­cers aimed ri­fles at Kin­sey and the autistic man. Two can be seen in the video, peer­ing from be­hind util­ity poles about 25 me­tres away. The other two, wit­nesses said, were on the op­po­site side of Kin­sey, off cam­era, stand­ing be­hind a car in an apart­ment park­ing lot.

Thomas Matthews, 73, said he watched the lead-up to the shoot­ing through binoc­u­lars. He said he tried to tell an of­fi­cer that the autistic man had a toy truck but she told him to get back.

“If she would have told the other of­fi­cers, maybe they wouldn’t have shot,” said Matthews, an AfricanAmer­i­can. He ran a North Mi­ami flower shop be­fore re­tir­ing and has lived in the area for years. He said he has never had a prob­lem with North Mi­ami police.


In this screen cap­ture from video, Charles Kin­sey seen with a pa­tient be­fore be­ing shot by police.

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