The North Miami police officer who shot an unarmed, black mental health worker caring for a patient actually took aim at the autistic man next to him, but missed, the head of the police union said yesterday, the Miami Herald reports. It was a stunning admission from the police officer and from John Rivera, who heads up Miami-Dade’s Police Benevolent Association. It was meant to calm the fears of a nation besieged with cellphone videos of police shooting and sometimes killing unarmed black men. In this case, Rivera said, the officer ended up wounding the man he was trying to save. “I couldn’t allow this to continue for the community’s sake,” Rivera said during a hastily called press conference at the union’s office. “Folks, this is not what the rest of the nation is going through.”
Earlier yesterday, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said little other than that no weapon had been found and that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had taken over the investigation. The chief didn’t take any questions and refused to name the officer. The city said he is a 30-year-old Hispanic male who has been on the force for four years. Rivera called the officer who shot Charles Kinsey “decorated” and said he was a member of city’s SWAT team. On Monday, the officer shot Kinsey, 47, after mistakenly believing that Kinsey was going to be killed by the 23-year-old autistic man playing with a toy truck who was sitting on the ground next to him, police said. Rivera said the officer feared the autistic man had a weapon.