NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - The family of the autistic man who wound up at the center of a controversial police-involved shooting that sent his caretaker to the hospital, earlier this week, said they are mortified by how the police department has handled the entire incident.
Speaking with 7News as they sat next to their attorney, the mother and sister of Arnaldo Rios revealed that seeing his caretaker, Charles Kinsey, shot in the leg on Monday evening left the 26-year-old traumatized.
Rios’ sister, Miriam Rios, said she and her mother, Gladys Soto, first learned about the shooting on the news. “When I got home, I noticed my mom was crying, nervous,” said Miriam. “She had no answers, and she explained to me what she saw.”
Police said they responded to the scene, near the MACtown group home, after getting reports of a suicidal man with a gun. That man turned out to be Soto, who was captured on video rocking back and forth with something in his hand that turned out to be a toy truck.
Investigators said North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda opened fire, hitting Kinsey in the leg. “Later on they realized it was a toy, and he didn’t have a gun,” said Miriam. “Come on, now. It’s too many lies.”
Soto, visibly distraught, said she was horrified when she saw video of her son during the incident. “He was just standing upright. They almost killed him,” she said in Spanish
Rios, who has the mental capacity of a 4-year-old, was handcuffed and placed in a police car for more than three hours. “He was confused,” said Soto.
Miriam said she was appalled when she saw footage of Kinsey with his arms raised as he told officers he was unarmed and that he was a therapist. “It’s so unfair that they weren’t even listening to what he was saying,” said Miriam.
“If this police had adequate training, this would not have happened,” said disability rights attorney Matthew Dietz, who is representing the family.
Rios’ family said Soto had lived at the MACtown group home for about a month before the shooting and that he viewed Kinsey as a father figure.
Kinsey was released from Jackson Memorial Hospital on Thursday night.
Miriam wiped away tears as she explained her brother was so traumatized after the incident that he was taken to a psychiatric unit in Aventura because he can no longer stay at the group home. “He remembered what happened, and he ran outside toward the same spot where Charles was shot,” she said, “and he started screaming, ‘Blood! Why?'”
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association said the officer who fired the shot, identified as 30-year-old Jonathan Aledda, was actually aiming for Soto. Aledda has been placed on administrative leave.
Aledda’s commander, meanwhile has been placed on unpaid administrative leave for giving conflicting statements to investigators. “There will not be any cover-ups in the City of North Miami,” said North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin during a news conference, Friday afternoon.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is handling the investigation into the shooting.
Rios’ family said they may take legal action against the department, but their first priority at this time is finding a safe place for the 26-year-old Soto to live.
Fighting back tears, Miriam said she wants more transparency from the department. “Own up to your mistakes. Let people know that you’re trying to change,” she said.