Man with autism transported to state institution due to lack of local group homes

AVENTURA, Fla. (WSVN) – The story of a man with autism made national headlines after his therapist came under fire during an interaction with police, but that man’s attorney is now dealing with another problem.

On Tuesday, Arnaldo Rios, who is on the autism spectrum, left the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center’s psychiatric ward where he has been for the past 34 days since the altercation. He is reportedly in worse condition than he was before his caretaker, Charles Kinsey, was shot in the leg during the police encounter.

Cellphone video of Kinsey lying on the floor with his hands in the air next to his autistic patient, who was holding a toy truck went viral soon after the shooting. North Miami Police had believed that the toy truck was possibly a gun, and that’s when one officer fired.

Several people from all over the world who have seen the video have sent Rios toy trucks in hopes that he will get through the trauma of what happened. “We started this hashtag, ‘trucksnotguns’ so people started sending in trucks,” said attorney, Matthew Dietz. “He needs to learn that police aren’t somebody to be afraid of.”

A video that showed Rios dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” was released. It captures him smiling and having fun, but he’s now scarred from the police-involved shooting.

Dietz said Rios wasn’t able to do what he typically could do while at Aventura Hospital. “All of the things he liked to do, he couldn’t do at the psychiatric ward,” Dietz said.

After leaving the hospital, Rios will be sent to a state institution, Carlton Palms, located north of Orlando. It’s a place where he can play with his toy trucks that were sent to him. Dietz read a letter to 7News that was sent to Rios. It read in part: “Hi there, Arnaldo. Greetings from Australia from one autist to another. Enjoy life, try not to let the actions and words of people get to you.”

Leaving the hospital is a good thing, but Dietz said Rios should instead be taken to a group home that is nearby in Miami, not an institution that is in Orlando. Because of issues with the state system, there are none that can care for him.

Dietz said it is because of a failing system. “He likes seeing other people. He likes seeing his mother. He likes his sister. He likes interacting with folks in the community. He likes going out and going for a walk,” Dietz said. “He’s not gonna be able to do these same things at an institution.”

The hope is that one day, Rios will be back to his usual self of dancing, laughing and being happy.

Dietz has made previous statements that Rios should not be in a psychiatric ward, but that was the only place for him that was available since there is a group home shortage in the area.

Dietz said the family is considering a law suit against North Miami, but more importantly, Dietz said, they want to change the broken system that had Rios locked up in a psychiatric ward.

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