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Charles Kinsey shooting: US police open fire on autistic man's carer as he lies in street with hands up

Published 21/07/2016

A therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient in the middle of a street in Miami has said he was shot by police even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them no-one was armed.

The moments before the shooting were recorded on mobile phone and show Charles Kinsey, who is black, lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the stand-off with officers.

Speaking from his hospital bed while being treated for a gunshot wound to his leg, Mr Kinsey said: "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.

"Wow, was I wrong."

The shooting comes amid weeks of violence involving police. Five officers were killed in Dallas two weeks ago and three law enforcement officers were gunned down on Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Before those shootings, a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot during a scuffle with two white officers at a convenience store. In Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death during a traffic stop.

Mobile phone footage captured Mr Sterling's killing and the aftermath of Mr Castile's shooting, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.

At a news conference, north Miami police chief Gary Eugene said the investigation into the latest incident had been handed to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the office of the state's attorney.

He called it a "very sensitive matter" and promised a transparent and thorough investigation, but he refused to identify the officer or answer questions.

"I realise there are many questions about what happened on Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, we as a member of this police department, and I also have questions," he said.

"I assure you we will get all the answers."

The chief said officers responded following reports of a man with a gun threatening to kill himself, and the officers arrived "with that threat in mind" - but no gun was recovered from the scene.

Mr Kinsey, 47, said he was trying to coax his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from which he had wandered. Police ordered Mr Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground.

"Lay down on your stomach," Mr Kinsey says to his patient in the video, which was shot from a distance.

"Shut up," responds the patient.

Mr Kinsey is then heard to tell officers, who had their guns drawn: "He has a toy truck in his hand! A toy truck!"

An officer then fired three times, striking Mr Kinsey in the leg, assistant police chief Neal Cuevas said. The video posted on websites does not include the moment of the shooting.

"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," Mr Kinsey said.

"When he shot me, it was so surprising... 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'."

After the shooting, Mr Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and he said "I don't know".

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard.

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From Belfast Telegraph