Unarmed Man With Hands Up Shot by Cop: There's 'No Justification,' Lawyer Says

The officer involved was placed on administrative leave.

ByABC News
July 21, 2016, 6:02 PM

— -- An unarmed black man was shot and injured by police in North Miami while he had his hands in the air — a shooting that had "no justification," the injured man's attorney said today.

The attorney, Hilton Napoleon, released video of the Monday incident showing Charles Kinsey, 47, a behavioral therapist at an assisted living facility, on his back, lying the ground with his hands in the air. The man at his feet in the video is a man with autism who ran away from the home, Kinsey's attorney said.

In the video, Kinsey tells police "all he has is a toy truck in his hand."

"I am a behavior therapist," Kinsey says in the video. He tells the man with autism, "Please be still."

Napoleon said this morning, "The video clearly shows him laying on his back. The video clearly shows him with his hands as high in the air as he can possibly get them.

"And he also explains to the police that the instrument in the autistic guy's hand is a toy truck," Napoleon said. "When you look at the video, there is no argument that can be made that that is a gun. The appearance of it is rectangular, it's white, it's not shiny, it's not painted, and it's not even shaped like a gun."

The North Miami Police Department said it had received a 911 call of a man threatening to commit suicide with a gun pointed at his head.

"At some point during the on-scene negotiation" with the two men, one of the officers fired, striking Kinsey, police said. Kinsey was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

No gun was recovered, police said today.

Napoleon said that Kinsey is physically "doing OK."

"I think one of the biggest hurdles that's going to be tough for him in the long run is the mental aspect of it, because he feels he really did everything he could do to cooperate and go over and beyond to show police that he's not armed and that he's trying to help de-escalate a situation with a mental health individual," Napoleon said. "It's going to be a long haul to make sure that he gets over that fear."

"There is no justification for shooting an unarmed person who is talking to you and telling you that they don't have a gun and that they're a mental health counselor," Napoleon said. "I just don't understand it."

The North Miami Police Department said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation. The state attorney's office is also looking into the case, police said.

The officer involved was placed on administrative leave, police said. The police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has not released the officer's name because of the ongoing investigation.

John Rivera, the president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, said this afternoon that Kinsey "did everything right," adding that the officer was trying to protect Kinsey.

"All of the officers felt that there was a firearm involved," and the officers at one point thought "the white male was reloading the firearm," Rivera said.

"They saw the white male almost on top of Mr. Kinsey, who had his hands up and who had his knees up, and to the officers, it looked like the white male was about to shoot Mr. Kinsey," Rivera said. "The officers all thought the individual had a firearm, not a toy truck."

He said the vantage point seen in the video is different from the perspective of the officers, who were farther back. Rivera said the officer "was trying to save the life of Mr. Kinsey and feels horrible that his aim missed and struck Mr. Kinsey."

"The officers were justified in their actions. They did everything that they could do and were human beings. And we had a human being miss his target and unfortunately strike Mr. Kinsey," Rivera said.

The officer involved in the shooting said in a statement released by the police union, "I took this job to save lives and help people. I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that and hate to hear others paint me as something I'm not."

When ABC News asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the shooting this morning, she said, "I am aware of it, and we're trying to gather all the facts about it so we can determine essentially how that matter will be handled or reviewed."

"We obviously want to gather as much information as we can so that we can make informed decisions," she said.

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