Florida policeman shoots autistic man’s unarmed black therapist

Alton Sterling's death, which was caught on mobile phone camera, sparked off widespread protests against police treatment of the black community. Photo: Reuters

A Florida policeman shot and wounded an autistic man's unarmed black therapist on Monday, local media reports.

Charles Kinsey, who works with people with disabilities, told WSVN television he was helping a patient who had wandered away from a facility.

Mobile phone video shows Kinsey lying down with his hands in the air, and his patient sitting in the road with a toy truck.

The latest shooting follows weeks of violence involving police.

North Miami Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas said officers were called out on Monday, following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself.

Police ordered Kinsey and the patient to lie on the ground, he told The Miami Herald.

The video shows Kinsey lying down while trying to get his patient to comply.

'Wow was I wrong'

He can be heard telling officers he has no weapon, and that the other man is autistic and has a toy truck.

An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. No weapon was found.

Police have not released the name or race of the officer who shot him but said he had been placed on administrative leave.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident.

In an interview with the TV station from his hospital bed, Mr Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself during the incident.

"As long as I've got my hands up, they're not going to shoot me. This is what I'm thinking. They're not going to shoot me," he said. "Wow, was I wrong."

Kinsey is a member of the Circle of Brotherhood, a collective of African American men and community activists in south Florida.

"It could be any of us," Lyle Muhammad, a spokesman for the group, told BBC.

"Here's an individual who is going about his daily employment and doing it well, and speaking clearly and following every single instruction he was given, and he still finds himself assaulted."

Worsening relations

The shooting comes amid concern over worsening race relations in the United States.

Muhammad said there was an "inherent fear of black men in this country that allows us to to be gunned down without provocation".

He said he hoped better community policing training would come to the North Miami Police Department as a result of the incident.

Three law enforcement officers were shot dead and three others wounded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday.

The killer was shot by police. It later transpired he had posted videos complaining at police treatment of African Americans and urging them to "fight back".

Two weeks earlier, on 5 July, two white officers in Baton Rouge killed a black man, Alton Sterling, 37.

That shooting, also captured on mobile phone video, provoked widespread protests about police treatment of the black community.

A day later, on 6 July, another black man, 32-year-old Philando Castile, was killed in Minnesota when a police officer pulled him over. The next day, a sniper killed five Dallas police officers as they guarded a peaceful protest.


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