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Thursday 27 October 2016

Autistic man left traumatised after Miami police shot his carer

Published 24/07/2016 | 03:36

The scene of the shooting of a black therapist who was taking care of an autistic man, in North Miami (AP)
The scene of the shooting of a black therapist who was taking care of an autistic man, in North Miami (AP)

An autistic man who was the intended target of a police bullet is suffering from emotional distress, not eating and is traumatised following the shooting of his carer.

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Gladys Soto, the mother of Arnaldo Rios, said that she is worried about the safety of her son.

He wandered back to the site of the Monday shooting a day later, threw himself on the ground and shouted: "I hate the police, I hate the police," The Miami Herald reported.

"It's too emotional to see your baby caught up in something like this," Ms Soto said.

Miriam Soto said her brother is suffering from night terrors and is not sleeping or eating.

"He's not the same any more," Miriam Soto said of her brother.

The four North Miami police officers who aimed rifles at Mr Rios and his black therapist, Charles Kinsey, in the middle of a the road were responding to a 911 call about a suicidal man with a gun.

Mr Rios sat cross-legged, shouted, and did not obey commands to lie down with his hands up, as Mr Kinsey was doing, and he fidgeted with a metal object.

One of the officers, Jonathan Aledda, thought the disabled man was about to shoot Mr Kinsey, who was trying to coax Mr Rios back to a nearby group home, the police union has said.

The officer fired three shots at Mr Rios because he thought he was a threat, but he missed and accidentally struck Mr Kinsey in the leg.

The metal object turned out to be a toy truck and there was no suicide threat.

It was the latest in a violent month of police shootings, but it also highlights the difficulties officers have in identifying people with autism.

The characteristics of autism range from mild quirks or obsessions, to people who cannot communicate, yell and occasionally become violent.

The family's lawyer Matthew Dietz criticised the officers' training in dealing with people with mental illness.

"After they knew that he had autism, what did they do? They threw him on the ground," Mr Dietz said.

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