The good news: The man who was shot, Charles Kinsey, will survive. He was shot in the leg, and he is getting medical attention, and he will physically recover.
And now for the rest of the news, which is anything but good:
A therapist who works with people with disabilities is telling his story after he said police shot him while he was trying to help his patient with autism.North Miami Police were called to the scene after someone reported "a man walking around with a gun threatening suicide." But that was completely inaccurate. Rinaldo was distressed (but not threatening suicide) and was holding a toy truck (not a gun).
Cellphone video was released Wednesday afternoon showing Charles Kinsey [who is Black] lying on the ground with his hands in the air, telling officers that weapons are not necessary. "When I went to the ground, I'm going to the ground just like this here with my hands up," Kinsey said, "and I am laying down here just like this, and I'm telling them again, 'Sir, there is no need for firearms. I'm unarmed, he's an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.'"
In his hospital bed, Kinsey said, he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, "All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home."
He is also heard asking his patient to calm down. "Rinaldo, please be still, Rinaldo. Sit down, Rinaldo. Lay on your stomach."
The ordeal went on for a few minutes before Kinsey said one of the officers shot him. "I'm like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising," Kinsey said. "It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I'm like, 'I still got my hands in the air,' and I said, 'No I just got shot!' And I'm saying, 'Sir, why did you shoot me?' and his words to me, he said, 'I don't know.'"
Kinsey says he thought as long as he kept his hands up, he wouldn't be shot. "Wow, was I wrong." He adds that, once he'd been shot, "My life flashed in front of me. When he hit me, my first thing I'm thinking—I'm thinking about my family."
This is a man whose life is dedicated to helping people. He was helping an autistic man in his charge when he was shot by police. He was shot, although it was the other man (who is not Black) who was holding the toy truck that was presumed to be a gun.
And when he asked why he was shot, the answer the officer gave him was, "I don't know."
Kinsey's proximity to a disabled person is probably at least part of the reason. As Carimah Townes notes at Think Progress: "About half of the people shot every year by police have a disability. Few police departments have specialized training for how to interact with people with 'physical, cognitive, and developmental handicaps,' according to Rolling Without Limits, a blog dedicated to disability advocacy. In February, Maryland became the first state to mandate a disability sensitivity training program."
Without such training programs, people get shot. Or profoundly mistreated in other ways, as was the case for Neli Latson.
I'm so, so glad that Charles Kinsey and Rinaldo survived this encounter. I hope that Kinsey will have access to the healthcare resources he needs for a full physical recovery. And I hope he gets a big fat settlement from the North Miami Police that covers all his medical bills and then some. Goddammit.