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Black Man Says He Was Shot By North Miami Police While Lying On The Ground

The circumstances of the video seem stark: In bright daylight, an unarmed black man lies next to a patient with autism whom he was trying to help, holding his hands up and telling police he is a therapist at a group home in an effort to assure officers that they aren't a threat.

But the police later shot and wounded that man, in a case that has renewed discussions of officers' use of force.

The video, reportedly taken with a cellphone, was filmed Monday and published online Wednesday, bringing swift condemnations. The man at the center of it is Charles Kinsey, who gave an interview to local TV news Channel 7 WSVN from his hospital bed in which he described telling officers — who were responding to a call of an armed man threatening suicide — that he was attempting to bring a man with autism back to the assisted living facility from which he had wandered.

In a statement, North Miami police say officers who responded to the scene "attempted to negotiate with two men on the scene," and that one of the officers discharged his weapon. The department says the officer is now on administrative leave and that it's investigating the case with the help of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office.

In a subsequent press conference, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation.

During the incident, the patient had a toy truck; Kinsey says he had been worried for the patient's safety and was surprised that he himself was shot — he tells Channel 7 that he had his hands up as high as he could get them, and had obeyed an order to lie on the ground. In a segment of the encounter with police that apparently wasn't captured on video, Kinsey was shot in the leg.

"I'm like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising," Kinsey tells Channel 7. "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! And I'm saying, 'Sir, why did you shoot me?' and his words to me, he said, 'I don't know.' "

Kinsey went on to say that he was also surprised at how he was treated after he was shot:

"They flipped me over, and I'm faced down in the ground, with cuffs on, waiting on the rescue squad to come. I'd say about 20, about 20 minutes it took the rescue squad to get there. And I was like, bleeding — I mean bleeding, and I was like, 'Wow.' "

Kinsey is a member of a group called the Circle of Brotherhood, according to Channel 7, which reports that other members of the group visited the North Miami police station Wednesday evening to seek answers about Kinsey's case. The group's Facebook page includes a photo with the motto "Black men solving their own community problems."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.