A Florida appeals court has overturned the conviction of a former North Miami police officer convicted of culpable negligence after he shot at an unarmed autistic man carrying a toy truck and wounded his caretaker. Aledda was convicted of the misdemeanor in 2019.
In the opinion filed Wednesday, the 3rd District Court of Appeals cited Aledda’s inability to share information about his SWAT training under Assistant Police Chief Angel Rivera as the reason for a new trial.
“While the state was allowed to present evidence as to how other officers on the scene responded to the situation, and how ‘shocked’ those officers were that Aledda fired his weapon, the trial court’s challenged evidentiary ruling precluded Aledda from presenting a key ingredient of his defense,” Wednesday’s ruling said.
The incident in question occurred on July 18, 2016, after Arnaldo Rios-Soto, an autistic man, ran from his group home with a silver toy truck in his hand. His caretaker, Charles Kinsey, followed after him, but police were called to the scene because a caller believed Rios-Soto was carrying a gun.
Video showed Kinsey lying on his back, holding his hands in the air and begging officers not to shoot. Kinsey also testified that he repeatedly yelled that Rios-Soto was only holding a toy truck.
Aledda testified that he never heard Kinsey, nor did he hear another officer’s comments suggesting Rios-Soto was not holding a gun. He said he believed Rios-Soto was holding Kinsey hostage and that his life was in danger in the moments before the shooting.
“I believed it was a hostage situation. It appeared he was screaming for mercy or for help or something. In my mind, the white male had a gun,” Aleddain court in 2019. “I couldn’t hear what the black man was saying. In my mind, I thought he might get shot.”
He fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Wednesday that the court’s opinion was “disappointing” and said the state will explore further options.