*The trial of the North Miami officer who shot an unarmed healthcare provider three years ago started Thursday.
Jonathan Aleddaa is charged with attempted manslaughter and negligence for his role in the July 2016 shooting of Charles Kinsey. Three years later, fragments from a police bullet are still lodged in his leg.
The behavioral therapist was sitting in the road with his autistic client, 26-year-old Arnaldo Rios, trying to coax him to return to the group home he had walked away from. A passerby mistook the silver toy truck Rios was holding for a gun and called 911.
Video went viral showing Kinsey lying on his back, holding his hands in the air and begging responding officers not to shoot. The disturbing scene also sparked national outrage and debate across social media.
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Testifying Thursday, Kinsey said he immediately put his hands in the air when officers arrived but Aledda shot three times at Rios, hitting his caretaker instead.
As reported by the Miami Herald, prosecutors argue that the officer was reckless and trigger happy, who fired despite being a considerable distance away and plenty of evidence to support Rios was no threat.
“Having power of life and death, he chose death,” prosecutor Reid Rubin told jurors during opening statements Thursday.
But Aledda’s defense claim the officer was a hero, as he believed Rios had a gun trained on Kinsey.
“This is a life or death situation,” defense lawyer Douglas Hartman said. “He thinks it’s a hostage ready to be killed right in front of him. He had the guts to do it.”
The officer felt he had no choice but to try to save Kinsey.
“Why else would he be laying on the ground with his hands up if he wasn’t being held hostage?” Hartman said.
Kinsey said Rios “was oblivious” to the chaos all around him as he remained on the ground, playing with his toy.
When the victim asked one officer why the police shot him, he recalled the answer was “I don’t know.”