NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - In the middle of a North Miami street, Charles Kinsey, a caregiver at a group home, laid on his back with his hands in the air on Monday while North Miami police officers were positioned behind light poles with their guns drawn.
At his feet sat Kinsey's 23-year-old autistic client, who was playing with a toy truck.
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"All he has is a toy truck, a toy truck," Kinsey is heard yelling in a cellphone video of the incident. "I am a behavior therapist at a group home."
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up, you idiot," the man for whom Kinsey was caring shouts at him.
Kinsey was eventually shot by police and is listed in good condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital, a hospital representative said.
Police said they were initially called to the area of Northeast 14th Avenue and Northeast 127th Street after they received a call about an armed man threatening suicide.
According to North Miami police spokeswoman Natalie Buissereth, officers "attempted to negotiate" with the men.
"My client asked the police, 'Why did he shoot me?' And the officer said, 'I don't know,'" Hilton Napoleon, Kinsey's attorney, said.
Police have not said why the officer shot Kinsey.
"There is no justification for shooting an unarmed person who is talking to you and telling that they don't have a gun and that they are a mental health counselor," Napoleon said.
His ex-wife echoed those views.
"It was scary at first when I first heard about it. I was hysterical, but right now he is doing good," Lashawn Young, said.
Clint Bower, who runs the group home, told Local 10 News that Kinsey was shot three times in the leg and that the man he was caring for is non-verbal and has "relatively low function."
"Very shocked, because you hear it, like the police incidents all the time and you never think it is going to be a part of your family," Young said. "I feel like they just pull out their weapons and just shoot for no apparent reason."
Kinsey's lawyer said his client did everything police asked of him, yet they still fired at him.
"He threw his hands in the air as high as he possibly could and he told them, 'There is no need for that. Nobody has a gun. I am a behavioral therapist and I am trying to help this guy,'" Napoleon said.
Police said the autistic man had something in his hand, but Kinsey's lawyer said it was a toy fire truck and could not be mistaken for a gun.
"It is not silver. It is not shiny. It is not black. It doesn't look like a gun," Napoleon said. "In fact, you can see the autistic guy playing with it."
Meanwhile, Kinsey's family said they just want to see the officer punished.
A small group gathered outside the North Miami Police Department on Wednesday night and called the shooting yet another example of police wrongly taking aim at an unarmed black man.
"That could have been any of us, unarmed, going about our daily affairs of our business and our livelihoods as community servants and being gunned down," Lyle Muhammad of the Circle of Brotherhood said.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave as is department policy.
The Miami-Dade County state attorney's office is assisting in the investigation.
Police are encouraging anyone who witnessed the shooting to call 305-891-0294.
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