MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A South Florida jury has found North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda not guilty on a culpable negligence charge in the shooting of a caretaker.
He had been accused of attempted manslaughter for firing three shots at a severely autistic man but hitting the man’s caretaker instead.
The jury deliberated for more than six hours but still could not reach a verdict on the attempted manslaughter charges.
In fact, the jury could not decide on three charges.
The state will decide on March 27 if they will go to trial on the other charges.
Aledda was charged with 2 felony counts of attempted manslaughter and 2 misdemeanor counts of culpable negligence.
The prosecution said in a statement, “Since July 18, 2016, our community has been traumatized by North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda’s shooting of mental health therapist Charles Kinsey in his effort to protect his client, Arnaldo Rios Soto.”
Aledda’s attorney, Douglas Hartman said, “I think he (Aledda) was disappointed that he was hoping to be acquitted, you know go home to his wife and baby.”
Aledda insisted during the trial that he though Arnaldo Rios Soto was holding a gun when he fired at him in 2016. But the shots struck his caretaker Charles Kinsey in the leg and Rios wasn’t holding a gun but a silver toy truck.
RAW VIDEO FROM INSIDE THE COURTROOM:
Aledda, testifying on his own behalf on Wednesday, said he never heard another officer radio that the object was a toy and thought Rios was becoming aggressive. He insisted that he thought Kinsey was Rios’ 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.
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.
Aledda said he was stunned when he realized he’d struck Kinsey and tried “to do everything in my power to help him.”
Aledda’s defense lawyer, Douglas Hartman, blamed faulty radios and poor supervision by the North Miami Police Department for the miscommunications that led to the shooting.
“He had a life-and-death situation. He thought without question that Mr. Kinsey was going to die, be shot and murdered,” Hartman told the jury of five men and one woman.
Aledda was charged with attempted manslaughter and culpable negligence.
Aledda is the first police officer since 1989 to be prosecuted in Miami-Dade for an on-duty shooting.