Dear MoveOn member,
Charles Kinsey, a mental health worker, was shot in the leg by a police officer in Florida while helping an autistic patient who had wandered away from the medical facility where Kinsey works. At the time he was shot, Kinsey was lying on his back, hands in the air, trying to explain to the responding officer that he and his patient were both unarmed.1
Kinsey says when he asked the officer why he was shot, the officer responded, "I don't know."
According to a police union statement, the police officer who shot Kinsey, Officer Jonathan Aledda, says he was aiming for the autistic patient and injured Kinsey by mistake. He said, "I did what I had to do."2
The department just suspended Commander Emile Hollant—the officer who radioed in the misinformation that the patient was loading a gun and later lied about it—without pay.3 Suspending these officers is not enough—neither of these officers should be able to put on a uniform again. However, Florida police union contracts and lobbying have made it almost impossible for police officers to be held accountable.
Police violence against Black men and women in our country is an epidemic—the number of Black men and women killed by police each year is staggering. At least 138 Black people have been killed by police already this year. Having police who are unable to make quick judgment calls that de-escalate police encounters is no longer acceptable.4
Our social media feeds and media headlines are filled with horrific stories of police responding with aggression, violence, and domination, instead of engaging in conversation or using de-escalation strategies when interacting with Black men and women.
Police officers who jump to violence must be held accountable and removed from the police force. Failing to do so continues the dangerous tradition of allowing police to act without consequence for the pain and suffering they inflict on Black men and women.
—Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org
1. "Cop shoots caretaker of autistic man playing in the street with toy truck," Miami Herald, July 20, 2016
2. "Cop who shot Charles Kinsey: 'I did what I had to do,'" Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 22, 2016
3. "North Miami Cop Suspended for Giving 'Conflicting' Statements in Charles Kinsey Shooting," Miami New Times, July 22, 2016
4. "Fatal Force," The Washington Post, accessed July 22, 2016
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