Black Man Shot by Police While Lying on Ground With Hands Up, Reports Say

By Jim Liao
Jim Liao
Jim Liao
July 21, 2016 Updated: July 22, 2016

A black man says he was shot by a North Miami police officer as he was lying on the ground with both of his hands in the air, reigniting discussion on police use of force.

Charles Kinsey, a caretaker at an assisted living facility in North Miami, was taking care of an autistic man who had wandered off and was found sitting in the street blocking traffic. He was playing with a toy car, which was apparently mistook in a 911 call to North Miami Police as an “armed man threatening suicide,” according to local broadcaster WPLG-TV.

North Miami Police officers responded to the scene.

Video footage, taken via a cellphone, released Wednesday afternoon shows Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands up, the autistic man playing with a toy car, and police hiding behind two light poles on either side of the street with guns in hand.

In a statement, North Miami police said that officers who responded to the scene had “attempted to negotiate with two men on the scene,” and adding one of the officers discharged his weapon. The officer is now on administrative leave. The case is being investigated with the help of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office.

Kinsey gave an interview with WSVN: “When I went to the ground, I’m going to the ground just like this here with my hands up.”

“I am laying down here just like this, and 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,” he added from his hospital bed.

“All he has is a toy truck in his hand. A toy truck. I am a behavioral therapist at a group home,” Kinsey is heard yelling in the video. “Rinaldo, please be still, Rinaldo. Sit down, Rinaldo. Lay on your stomach,” he is also heard saying.

Police reportedly shot at Kinsey three times, and one of bullets hit his leg. 

“When he shot me, it was so surprising,” Kinsey told WSVN. “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.'”

Kinsey said that afterwards, police came over to pat him down, checked to see if there was a weapon on him, handcuffed him, and then flipped him over. It took 20 minutes for rescue squad to arrive, after which Kinsey was transferred to a hospital. Kinsey noted that he was bleeding the entire time.

Kinsey’s attorney is calling for a full investigation as to why his client was shot.

“There is no justification for shooting an unarmed person who is talking to you and telling that they don’t have a gun and that they are a mental health counselor,” attorney Hilton Napoleon tells WPLG.

Napoleon further told the Washington Post that his father had been a police officer in Detroit, so he understands the issues that police face on a regular basis.

“But at the end of the day, we can’t use that as an excuse to allow police officers to shoot unarmed individuals,” he explained. “Just like the police ask the community to not judge them based on … however many bad apples that are out there. In the same sense, they have to be able to hold themselves to the same standard and not hold the entire [black] community responsible for the incidents that happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge.”

A hospital representative confirmed Kinsey is in good condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital. 

Jim Liao