A police official is stressing that the police shooting of Charles Kinsey—a black man who had both hands in the air at the time he was shot—was a misunderstanding.
The official, John Rivera, blamed the media for blowing things out of proportion, and made a point that he wanted to clear up any misconceptions.
“Be responsible in your reporting. And we’re asking the community to please allow facts—not sensationalism, not politics, but facts—to allow to work the system. Today we are prepared to fix some wrongs,” John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, said at a news conference covered by the Miami Herald on July 21.
Rivera asserts that the officer wasn’t trying to harm Kinsey. Rather, he was trying to save Kinsey’s life.
“And fearing for Mr Kinsey’s life, the officer discharged his firearm, trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life. And he missed, and accidentally struck Mr. Kinsey. He thought the white male and his actions were such that he felt Mr. Kinsey’s life was in danger,” he said.
He also responded to the media’s handling of the incident. He said some media outlets reported on what Kinsey said in cellphone videos. “If you can clearly hear Mr. Kinsey, why does every news outlet have to put subtitles. You can’t clearly hear Mr. Kinsey,” Rivera said.
Meanwhile, he said police officers on the scene did not have access to information viewers of the videos had. He says officers did not know the white patient was autistic at the time. They weren’t able to discern that what he was holding was a toy truck.
A statement by the officer who shot Kinsey was read aloud by Rivera during the press conference, “I took this job to save lives and help people. I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that, and I hate to hear others paint me as something I am not.”
“This is not the case of a rogue cop. This is not the case of a police abuse. This is the case of a police officer was trying to save Mr Kinsey’s life, and unfortunately, his shot went astray,” he reiterated.
The shooting incident occurred Monday, but the public was not informed until two cell phone videos of the event were released Wednesday. North Miami police had reportedly responded to a 911 call concerning an armed individual threatening suicide. The footage shows two individuals in the middle of a street—one a white autistic man playing with a toy gun, and Kinsey, a caretaker from a assisted living facility.
Kinsey had both of his hands up and could be heard placating the autistic man. Police fired three times—and one of the bullets hit Kinsey in the leg.
Rivera, however, said he doesn’t agree that “Kinsley did everything right,” and it was merely that the officer didn’t know that the autistic man wasn’t a threat.
He added that the offending officer as well as the rest of the Police Benevolent Association are wishing Kinsey a speedy recovery.
An investigation of the shooting conducted by the local state’s attorney office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still ongoing, according to NPR.