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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda took the stand in front of a Miami jury on Wednesday.
Aledda is accused of shooting an unarmed caretaker while working on duty.
The shooting took place in July of 2016 and has received nationwide attention.
Police were called to a scene after a report that a man had a shiny object with him that was possibly a gun.
The defense says Aledda believed that 26-year-old Arnaldo Rios, a severely disabled man, was holding his caretaker Charles Kinsey hostage.
“Obviously he had his hands forward but he was becoming aggressive so I thought that he could shoot him at any moment,” Aledda said on the stand.
Prosecutors say Aledda fired three times at Rios. One bullet struck Kinsey in the thigh and nearly hit a main artery.
Cell phone video showed Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air. Prosecutor Reid Rubin and Kinsey both have said that Kinsey was no threat.
“When he turned around aggressively, that’s when I quickly holstered my radio and put both hands back on my rifle,” Aledda said.
Last Friday afternoon, prosecution witness, Officer Alens Bernadeau, testified that Kinsey was yelling that he had his hands up in the air.
“Did he keep his hands up,” the officer was asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “He had some sort of toy or truck or car.”
Bernadeau also demonstrated how it was pointed.
“It was pointed like this at me,” he said, as he handled the toy truck in front of jurors.
Bernadeau, who was standing with his partner 20 feet away from Kinsey and Rios, said he did not feel compelled to fire his weapon.
Aledda is the first police officer since 1989 to be prosecuted in Miami-Dade for an on-duty shooting.
Civil rights groups have criticized police tactics in this case.
Aledda is charged with two counts of felony attempted manslaughter and two counts of culpable negligence.
In dramatic testimony last week, Kinsey said, “My hands were straight up.”
“Why did you put your hands up,” the prosecutor asked.
“Because they pulled out guns and I let them know I was not a threat,” replied Kinsey. “I told the officers there is no need for firing. I am not a threat. I am not armed. My client is not armed. I am a behavioral therapist. That’s all this is.”
Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m.