A North Miami police officer shot an unarmed black man named Charles Kinsey on Monday as Kinsey was attempting to help a man with autism. According to Kinsey, he was shot while he was lying on the ground with his hands in the air.
Police were responding to a 911 call about a man with a gun who was attempting to commit suicide. When they arrived at the scene they found Kinsey—who works at a clinic for people with disabilities—trying to control an autistic man he refers to as “Rinaldo.”
Cell phone footage of the incident shows Kinsey lying on his back with his hands in the air. The autistic man is sitting beside him, holding what investigators later determined to be a toy truck, not a gun. Kinsey can be heard trying to calm his patient: “Rinaldo, please be still, Rinaldo. Sit down, Rinaldo. Lay on your stomach,” he says.
Strangely, the video does not show the actual shooting. It cuts from Kinsey on the ground with his hands in the air to Kinsey handcuffed and lying on his stomach. Thus far, a video of the shooting itself has yet to surface, according to CNN.
North Miami Police have kept their cards close. North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene declined on Thursday to release the name or the race of the officer who fired his weapon. He said his department has turned the investigation over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida State Attorney’s office.
“[There are] many questions about what happened on Monday night,” Eugene told reporters. “You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city and as a member of the police department, I personally have questions.”
All the unanswered questions haven’t stopped social media users and politicians from harshly criticizing the police officer who pulled the trigger.
“We say to our boys and our men, if you’re ever stopped by the police, ‘freeze, don’t move,’ … that’s number one,” said Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson during a press conference. “What else could we have told [Kinsey]… what could have saved him from being shot?”
USA Today drew attention to a Twitter user named Helena Baptiste who said that “The only way #CharlesKinsey could have complied more was to have killed himself before cops got there.”
As for Kinsey, his reaction during the incident was surprise and confusion. “I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” Kinsey told WSVN-TV in Miami. “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! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me, he said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Kinsey is expected to make a full recovery.