A black therapist in the US state of Florida trying to calm a man with autism in the middle of the street says he was shot by police, even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them that both were unarmed.
The moments before the shooting on Monday were recorded on cellphone video, showing Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the standoff with officers, who appeared to have them surrounded.
“As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking. They’re not going to shoot me,” he told WSVN-TV later from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg.
“Wow, was I wrong.”
Monday’s shooting in north Miami inspired outrage three days later with the release of the cellphone video footage, which does not show the moment when the officer fired three shots towards Kinsey and his patient. The name of the patient has not been released and it is unclear why the two men were in the street.
Kinsey can be heard on the video telling police that the only thing the patient has in his hands is the toy. “A toy truck,” Kinsey tells the officers. “I am a behavior therapist at the group home. That’s all it is.”
A few seconds later, the camera swerves to show an officer hiding behind a pole with his gun raised, but footage of the actual shooting has not been released. The video also shows both men on the ground surrounded by officers.
Kinsey said he asked the officer why he had been shot, and the officer allegedly said, “I don’t know.”
The shooting comes at a time of growing tensions and increased protests against the disproportionate number of African Americans killed by the police.
North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said on Thursday he had asked Florida state officials to lead the investigation into the shooting.
Police in the United States killed over 1,150 people in 2015, with the largest police departments disproportionately killing at least 321 African Americans, according to data compiled by an activist group that runs the Mapping Police Violence project.