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Chief: Cop Was Firing at Autistic Man, Not Therapist

Days after a North Miami police officer shot an unarmed behavioral health care worker as he raised his hands up in surrender, the local police union is speaking out.

John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association says the officer was trying to shoot at Charles Kinsey’s patient, a man with autism.

“Fearing for Mr. Kinsey’s life, the officer discharged his firearm, trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life,” Rivera said at a news conference. “And he missed, and accidentally struck Mr. Kinsey.”

NPR reports that Rivera also declared that the case is different from other recent incidents of police shootings of Black men, stating “Folks, this is not what the rest of the nation is going through. This is not a case of a rogue cop, this is not a case of police abuse.”

The officer in question was one of several who responded to a call to the North Miami Police Department about an armed man who was threatening suicide. Rivera said the officers saw Kinsey, who is Black, in the middle of the street with a male patient who had wandered away from an assisted living facility.

“It appeared to the officers that the white male was trying to do harm to Mr. Kinsey,” Rivera said.

The man’s ethnicity has not been released. Kinsey, who was shot in the leg, told reporters that he asked the officer why he shot him. He says the officer responded by saying, “I don’t know.”

Rivera said he was commenting on the case to “fix some wrongs” in the conversation it has generated. He also described it as a tragic accident brought on by officers’ uncertainty over the patient’s intentions.

Check back for updates.