MIAMI – A North Miami police officer convicted of culpable negligence in the 2016 shooting of an unarmed mental health therapist won't serve any prison time.
Instead, Officer Jonathan Aledda will serve a year of administrative probation, perform 100 hours of community service and write an essay on the importance of proper communication at a police scene.
A Miami-Dade County judge decided to withhold adjudication during Wednesday's sentencing hearing, ordering Aledda to serve probation, perform 100 hours of community service and write the essay of at least 2,500 words.
Aledda was acquitted last month on two counts of attempted manslaughter in his retrial, but a jury found him guilty on the lesser charge. He shot Charles Kinsey during the July 18, 2016, standoff in North Miami.
Arnaldo Rios, then 26, escaped from the group home where Kinsey worked as his caretaker.
Rios, who has severe autism, ended up sitting in the middle of Northeast 127th Avenue at Northwest 14th Street with a silver toy truck in his hands.
Kinsey sat beside him to calm him down. But after witnesses called police reporting a man with a gun, things escalated when Aledda fired his weapon, shooting Kinsey in the leg.
Aledda testified in his retrial that he thought Kinsey's life was in danger and that he was forced to fire at Rios, inadvertently shooting Kinsey instead.
"Those who had rifles said, 'No, I would not have fired and I didn't fire.' Those with handguns said, 'No, I would not have fired and I did not fire and, even if I had a rifle, I still would not have fired,'" assistant state attorney Don Horn said during the sentencing hearing. "The only officer who fired was Jonathan Aledda, and that's why we are here today."
Aledda couldn't hold in the tears Wednesday as his former training supervisor spoke about the kind of man and police officer he is, and then Aledda went up and spoke for himself.
"My life got turned upside down," he said. "I felt terrible for Mr Kinsey for the injury I caused. That was the last intention I had that day."
Aledda and his attorneys asked for leniency, and Aledda was emotional as the final decision was read.
Aledda's first trial in March ended with a hung jury on the attempted manslaughter charges and one count of culpable negligence. He was acquitted on another count of culpable negligence.
"Protecting all the residents of Miami-Dade is a duty assumed by every police officer every day," Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement after the sentencing. "Policing can be a very dangerous job. However, this case indicates our community's belief that, on a daily basis, thought and attention should be a part of every action undertaken."
The North Miami Police Department announced after the June verdict that it intends to fire Aledda.
Meanwhile, the city of North Miami has reached a confidential settlement with Rios regarding the incident.
"Arnaldo's family is relieved that this matter has resolved, and is hopeful that the City of North Miami, and other police departments across the nation will obtain more training to recognize and de-escalate situations with persons with autism," Matthew Dietz, litigation director at the Disability Independence Group, said in a statement.