MIAMI – The jury in the attempted manslaughter trial of a North Miami Police Department officer started deliberating on Thursday afternoon.
Pointing at a sign that read, "Distance, Doubt, Danger," Miami-Dade Chief Assistant State Attorney Don L. Horn said Officer Jonathan Aledda had doubt about what was going on when he arrived at an active scene July 18, 2016, in North Miami, yet he chose to fire his weapon.
Arnaldo Rios, a severely autistic man who had escaped from a MACTown facility, was holding his silver toy truck. Charles Kinsey, who was a MACTown caretaker, was on the ground next to Rios. Horn said that when Aledda arrived with his rifle, he thought it was the scene of a kidnapping.
"That's an assumption," Horn said during the trial Thursday. "Nobody ever in any of the [police radio] transmissions said anything about a hostage."
Horn pointed to the sign in Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan Fine's courtroom.
When Aledda, 32, testified in his own defense Wednesday, he said he thought Rios was holding a gun when he was in the middle of Northeast 127th Avenue at 14th Street.
Officers Alens Bernadeu and Kevin Crespo ordered Kinsey to get on the ground. Kinsey said he remembered saying a prayer and keeping his hands up. Jay Kolsky, Aledda's defense attorney, asked Kinsey if he prays with his eyes open.
"Yes," Kinsey said.
Aledda fired three shots at Rios, but he missed and struck Kinsey in the leg.
"Based on the fact that he used deadly force, under these facts, he is guilty because of his conduct," Horn said.
Aledda faces two counts of felony attempted manslaughter and two counts of culpable negligence.
"The issue before you is, has the state proved to you beyond to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt that Officer Jonathan Aledda is a common criminal?" Doug Hartman, Aledda's defense attorney, said.
The jury started deliberating about 5:50 p.m. and went home for the day about an hour later. Deliberations resume at 8:45 a.m., Friday.
The last time a police officer faced a jury over a shooting in Miami-Dade County was about three decades ago. Horn was a prosecutor in the case. Miami Police Department Officer William Lozano shot 23-year-old Clement Lloyd in the head Jan. 16, 1989, killing him in Miami's Overtown. There were riots. The jury found Lozano guilty of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to seven years in prison. In 1993, an appeals court overturned the verdict.