There is a very disturbing videotape out today that left me stunned and frankly irate. While I have sometimes questioned the evidence of police abuse in some high-profile cases where there is a gun present or extenuating circumstances, I can see no such circumstances in the shooting of Charles Kinsey in North Miami. Kinsey is a dedicated caretaker at an assisted living facility who went outside to calm down a young autistic man. Neither was armed and, at the time of the shooting, Kinsey had his hands up as he tried to get the troubled young man to lay on his stomach. Police fired three rounds, hitting Kinsey.
Kinsey said that the autistic man simply had a toy truck in his hand that was mistaken as a gun. Someone called police to say that the man was threatening suicide. The man sat on the street playing with the white toy truck.
Kinsey is heard telling the young man “Lay down on your stomach,” but the autistic man responds “Shut up. Shut up, you idiot.” Kinsey remains professional and calm. He asks the police “Can I get up now? Can I get up?” He also tries to defuse the situation and tells the police that there is no threat: “All he has is a toy truck in his hand. A toy truck. I am a behavioral therapist at a group home. . . . That’s all it is [referring to the toy truck] That’s all it is. There is no need for guns.”
Police respond by shouting “Let me see your hands” and shouting at the autistic man to “Get on the ground. Get on the ground.”
As the autistic man makes noise, Kinsey says “Rinaldo, please be still. Sit down, Rinaldo. Lay on your stomach.”
Soon after the police fire three bullets and hit Kinsey near his right knee, exiting his upper thigh.
Police then put the injured Kinsey into handcuffs as well as the autistic man with the toy truck.
In this videotape, you hear a bystander in disbelief of why they shot the health care worker:
The responsible officer is on administrative leave pending an investigation. At a minimum, it would be helpful for the police to reveal the alleged justification for the shooting of Kinsey because none of this make any sense. Under Tennessee v. Garner, “deadly force…may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or others.” Thus, the Supreme Court rejected the prior fleeing felon rule when the felon did not pose an immediate threat to society. Under Graham v. Connor, this is determined according to an “objective reasonableness” standard but a calculus that considers the split second decision-making in such circumstances. I see no such grounds in this videotape.
What do you think?