MIAMI – Jurors acquitted North Miami Police Officer Jonathon Aledda on Friday of one of the four charges he faced during the first trial against a police officer in Miami-Dade County since 1989.
Aledda has been living under microscope since he fired his M4 rifle at two unarmed men and wounded one of them July 18, 2016. Arnaldo Rios, who is autistic, had ran away from a MACTown facility. His caretaker Charles Kinsey was trying to persuade him to get up from the road.
Rios was holding his favorite silver toy truck. Aledda said he fired his rifle three times because he thought the shiny toy was a gun. Although there were other officers aware that Rios was holding a toy, Aledda said he didn't know because his radio wasn't working properly.
"I had to fire my shot," Aledda told jurors during his testimony. "I thought the black male was going to get executed."
Aledda shot at Rios. Instead, Kinsey, the black male, was wounded. He still has bullet fragments in his leg and said he is still in pain. Despite the verdict, Rios' attorney, Matthew Dietz, wrote on Twitter that he was grateful to the prosecutors.
"Thanks to Don Horn, Reid Rubin and Christine Zahralban for their passionate representation and upholding the victim [Rios'] humanity and right to live safely in our community," Dietz wrote after the verdict.
The jury found Aledda not guilty on one of the two misdemeanor culpable negligence counts, but they could not reach a unanimous verdict on the two felony counts of attempted manslaughter and the other misdemeanor culpable negligence count.
"I think he is disappointed," said Aledda's defense attorney, Douglas Hartman. "He was hoping to be acquitted, you know, go home to his wife and baby."
One of the six jurors believes the 32-year-old suspended officer is guilty, so he is not off the hook yet.
"My prosecution team and I will be discussing the case to determine the appropriate course of action as to the unresolved counts," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.
Miami-Dade prosecutors can take Aledda back to trial on the other three charges within 90 days. There is a status hearing in the case March 27 with Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan Fine.
Local 10 News reporters Janine Stanwood, Liane Morejon and Andrew Perez contributed to this report.