A North Miami police officer was found not guilty of attempted manslaughter for shooting at a severely autistic man and wounding the man's caretaker, an unarmed behavioral therapist, in 2016.
A jury on Monday found Jonathan Aledda not guilty on two counts of attempted manslaughter. He was found guilty on one count of culpable negligence.
The North Miami Police Department said Tuesday it plans to fire Aledda and has immediately put him on administrative leave without pay.
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"We respect the criminal justice system, and we are empathetic to the feelings of all who have been affected by this tragic incident," Major Annmarie Cardona said in a news release. "This case has impacted us all as a community."
"We thought he should have never been charged to begin with," said Douglas Hartman, Aledda's attorney. "We're disappointed that (the jury) found him guilty of a misdemeanor."
Earlier Monday, Aledda testified about the July 2016 shooting of Charles Kinsey from his perspective. Kinsey was shot after officers responded and found him with Arnaldo Rios Soto, a man with severe autism, who was in Kinsey’s care.
Officers had responded to the area along 127th Street near Northeast 14th Avenue after getting a call of a man with a gun. It turned out to be Soto holding a toy truck.
"I believed it to be a hostage situation," Aledda testified Monday. "I would see glimpses of the sun coming off of the object that I believed to be a gun and he had it concealed so I could never see the bottom of it like this."
Aledda's initial trial was declared a mistrial after the jury found him not guilty of culpable negligence but was hung on three additional charges.
Aledda says he committed no crime and told jurors he felt he had to act during the incident.
"All of a sudden the white male becomes aggressive and that's when I get on the radio and advise I have a clear shot because I see the situation escalating," Aledda said. "If I would have waited another minute or two there would be somebody dead. And I couldn’t take that risk. What’s why I had to act."
Prosecutors say Aledda fired his rifle at Rios Soto, striking Kinsey in the thigh while he lay in the street and begged police not to shoot. Aledda said it was only when the shooting ended that he found out Rios Soto didn't have a weapon.
Aledda, who was a four-year veteran and on the city’s SWAT team, pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.
“Since July 18, 2016, our community has been traumatized by North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda’s shooting of mental health therapist Charles Kinsey," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "Last evening, a jury decided that the shooting was not an error or an accident, but a crime."