Video shows police with guns drawn moments before North Miami shooting
Police officer says he did what he 'had to do in split second'
NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – The attorney of a man who was shot by a North Miami police officer this week said the city wants to settle the issue with his client as soon as possible.
Hilton Napoleon II said he has not been able to speak to North Miami police, but has spoken with the city manager and city attorney.
"There has been a discussion of a potential settlement, (and) they want to resolve it relatively fast in good faith to let the community know that they take these things seriously, but I'm not at liberty to discuss the terms of the settlement or what we think a potential settlement will be at this point," Napoleon said.
Meanwhile, the officer involved in the shooting released a statement Thursday afternoon saying, "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 hate to hear others paint me as something I'm not."
The officer has not been identified, but police said he is a 30-year-old Hispanic man who has been with the police department for four years.
North Miami police held a news conference earlier in the day, where Police Chief Gary Eugene said the department has turned over the investigation to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"I realize there are many questions about what happened Monday night," Eugene said. "You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, and as a member of this police department, I also have questions. I assure you, we will get all the answers."
Charles Kinsey was expected to speak to reporters Thursday at Jackson Memorial Hospital, but his attorney said Kinsey is just not ready.
"He got shot. He's very traumatized. He's actually speaking to a psychiatrist as we speak," Napoleon said.
Cellphone video shows Kinsey lying on his back Monday with his hands in the air in the area of Northeast 14th Avenue and 127th Street. At his feet sits a 24-year-old autistic man playing with a toy truck.
The sound of officers yelling is faint, but Kinsey's plea is clear:
"All he has is a toy truck, a toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home," Kinsey tells the officers.
The cellphone video goes on to show at least two officers taking up positions behind a light pole with their guns drawn.
It's what happened next that is now under scrutiny.
According to a man who filmed the incident, Kinsey kept his hands in plain view and told officers, "OK, I'm going to stand up now," before he was shot.
"He's like, 'Please, don't shoot me,'" Napoleon said.
Kinsey's attorney said two or three shots were fired, with one of the bullets hitting Kinsey in the leg. The witness said the officer fired from more than 100 feet away with a rifle.
"He asked the officer, 'Why did you shoot me?' And the officer said, 'I don't know.' My client also overheard another officer ask the shooting officer, 'Why did you shoot this guy?' And the officer who fired the shot said, 'I don't know,'" Napoleon said.
Another cellphone video, which surfaced Thursday, shows two officers behind a vehicle with guns drawn.
"The police are here with big guns, on top of my car. A crazy guy ran by with a revolver in his hand and they have him on the ground," a woman is heard saying in Spanish.
The man she is referring to is the autistic man with the toy truck which may have been mistaken for a handgun.
"I'm having to go through this, my God," she said. "And a black man lying in the street, poor black man."
Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association president John Rivera said the officer was trying to protect Kinsey, but accidentally shot him.
"The one officer discharged his firearm trying to strike the individual that they thought was trying to bring harm onto Mr. Kinsey. This is not a case of police brutality," Rivera said. "This is not one of those cases where it's a rogue cop. This is not a case other than an officer who was trying to save the life of Mr. Kinsey and feels horrible that his aim missed and struck Mr. Kinsey."
However, the man who took the cellphone video claims the officer was looking through a scope when he fired his weapon.
Kinsey's stepdaughter, Kookie Maffett, told Local 10 News that she was the first person Kinsey called after the shooting.
"He was like, 'They shot me, they shot me,' and I'm like, 'What?' He was just like, 'The police shot me.' And I just freaked out and I grabbed my sister and we went straight to the hospital," Maffett said. "I mean, if someone surrenders and they have their hands up, as long as they have their hands up, I mean that should let them know not to shoot him at all."
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, spoke at the news conference Thursday, showing her surprise and concern that something like this would happen in North Miami. She called the incident "quite a baptismal" for Eugene, who just recently became chief of North Miami police.
"This is not supposed to be happening in North Miami," Wilson said. "North Miami is a city where the police officers and the community jive. So many of our police officers come from the community, live in the community, work in the community."
The encounter played out near a group home where Kinsey works.
Napoleon said Kinsey was out in the street trying to coax the autistic man back into the home after he ran off.
The owner of the group home, Clinton Bower, told Local 10 News that the autistic man, who is nonverbal, was handcuffed and detained by police for hours.
He said his client had to be hospitalized after returning from police custody and said officers confiscated his toy truck as evidence.
Bower called Kinsey a hero and said he did everything right in following police's orders and making sure his client was OK.
Bower said he offered North Miami police training on how to deal with people with disabilities two years ago after police stunned another client with a Taser. He said the department never took him up on his offer.
Days after the shooting, Kinsey has yet to hear why officers felt the need to shoot.
"That's a reckless act and I don't understand any justification for it," Napoleon said.
The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida released a statement saying Kinsey could have easily been yet another unarmed man fatally shot by police.
"This is the latest in what seems like an endless litany of police shootings of individuals who should not have been shot. Philando Castile in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Vernell Bing in Jacksonville: there are too many to name them all here," Howard Simon said. "Of the 598 people killed by U.S. police this year, 88 were unarmed. Mr. Kinsey or his patient could very easily have become number 89."
Eugene said he asked the FDLE to take over the investigation on Wednesday.
"The State Attorney's Office is also looking at the case. Bringing in an outside agency shows our commitment to transparency and objectivity in a very sensitive matter," he said.
Eugene said the police department will conduct an internal investigation once the FDLE and Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office conclude their investigations.
"Investigators are gathering all evidence related to this incident," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "As is our procedure, once FDLE completes its investigation, they will provide us with their factual findings and conclusions.
"At that time, we will conduct our own investigation and review all of the evidence to determine whether the actions of the shooting officer constitute a criminal act that can be proven beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. We will release detailed information about all of the evidence once our investigation is complete."
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department is also aware of the shooting and is working with local law enforcement to gather more information.
North Miami police have opened up a hotline for community comments. Those who wish to voice their comments or concerns are asked to call 305-547-8644.
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