Unarmed therapist shot by Miami police as he lay down with his hands up

This shocking footage captures the moments before an unarmed therapist was shot by police in Miami, as he was trying to calm his autistic patient.


Video footage credit: The Independent. 

Footage shows Charles Kinsey, a behavioural therapist, lying on the ground with his hands in the air. He tells police he is unarmed as his patient sits next to him on the street, playing with a toy truck. 

The black care worker can be heard in the video trying to explain the situation to the police. He calls out: “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I’m a behaviour therapist at a group home.”

Moments later, police shot him in the leg, wounding him. 

 I was thinking, ‘as long as I have my hands up…they’re not going to shoot me’. Wow, was I wrong.

The officers then handcuffed him briefly, before he was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Police were called to the scene in Miami, Florida on July 18th after receiving a 911 call, claiming a man with a gun was threatening to commit suicide. 

The toy truck had been mistaken for a gun, Kinsey later said. 

The footage was released by Kinsey’s lawyer late on Wednesday. It also shows officers hiding behind their vehicle, aiming their guns at him, but footage of the actual shooting hasn’t been released. We also see police stood around both men, who are on the ground. 

 After the incident, Kinsey was interviewed whilst recovering in hospital. 

He told WSVN TV he was confused by the actions of the police. He said:  

“I was really more worried about him than myself. I was thinking, ‘as long as I have my hands up…they’re not going to shoot me’. Wow, was I wrong.

“I said [to the officer], ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ And his words to me, he said, ‘I don’t know’.”

He tried to diffuse the situation, explaining there was no need for gunfire. He said: “I’m going to the ground, just like this with my hands up. And I’m laying down here just like this. And I’m telling him again, ‘Sir, there’s no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, this is an autistic guy. He has a toy truck in his hand.”

The officer who fired a bullet into Kinsey’s leg hasn’t been identified, and has been put on administrative leave whilst the situation is under investigation. 

This video has been released after a long string of harrowing shootings in the US, and as immense tension between police and coloured communities reached breaking point. 

Earlier this month, police shot Alton Sterling at close range, killing him. His death sparked protests and Black Lives Matter movements across the US.

In a separate incident around the same time, the girlfriend of Philando Castile livestreamed the moment he was shot dead by police, as their daughter sat in the back seat of their car. 


Key facts

  • Young black men, despite making up only 2% of the total US population, were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015, a Guardian study found. 
  • A final tally, also conducted by the Guardian, found that 1,134 people died at the hands of law enforcement officers in 2015.
  • “Black Lives Matter” is a organization, created in 2012, which aims to fight back against anti-black racism and opression.