LOCAL VOICES: Therapists speak out on North Miami police shooting
Students pursuing MSW degree decry shooting of North Miami therapist aiding autistic patient A group of college students enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, studying to become therapists, submitted a joint letter to “Local Voices”
Students pursuing MSW degree decry shooting of North Miami therapist aiding autistic patient
A group of college students enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, studying to become therapists, submitted a joint letter to “Local Voices” in the Compton Herald expressing their outrage over an incident involving an unarmed therapist shot by North Miami police two weeks ago.
Before the Herald presents the concerns of the student therapists, here is a recap of the incident that occurred and was videotaped by an eyewitness.
North Miami police shot an unarmed, behavioral therapist as he tried to calm a man with autism, who walked offsite from a group home, July 16, 2016, and sat down on a busy street.
Police were called to the scene after someone made a 911 call about a disturbed man with a gun, threatening suicide. Charles Kinsey, the therapist who was shot, said the man was one of his patients, who suffers from autism. The reported gun, he said, was actually a toy truck
Still recovering in a hospital bed, Kinsey added clarity about what happened in the moments before he was wounded.
“When I went to the ground, I went to the ground with my hands up,” he said.
The video shows Kinsey, with both hands held up in the air, telling officers “All he has is a toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”
Kinsey was simultaneously trying to calm the autistic man, named Rinaldo and explain what was happening to the police, he says, when an officer shot him.
“When [the bullet] it hit me I had my hands in the air, and I’m thinking, ‘I just got shot!’ Kinsey recalled. “I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know.'”
Kinsey said the officers then handcuffed him and flipped him over as he bled onto the concrete. Kinsey told WSVN that being cuffed after being shot upsets him the most. He says he still experiences flashbacks when he closes his eyes.
Both Kinsey and his wife told reporters they are just happy he survived and is able to tell his story.
The North Miami Police Department issued a statement asking for witnesses, photos and videos of the officer-involved shooting, and called the investigation open and ongoing. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is also investigating.
The officer who shot Kinsey has been placed on administrative leave.
Joint letter by outraged students
My name is David Martinez, a Compton resident, and a current MSW student at California State University, Long Beach. With the serious issue of police shootings and the public, some fellow students and I have written this article to express our outrage concerning the recent shooting in Florida involving a male therapist.
As future therapists, it greatly concerns and saddens us to have to watch a video of a colleague in our profession shot by a police officer while protecting his autistic client. As therapists, many of us choose this profession to serve our community and provide services to those in need. A therapist’s job is hard enough mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Therapists already have a duty to protect and provide for our clients. With current events, we now question our safety and worry about being shot by those placed in a position of power and authority. During turbulent times like the ones we are experiencing, now we have to second guess police assistance.
We deserve mutual respect. We respect law enforcement and appreciate their efforts to protect and serve. We hope to receive like courtesy as we also serve the public.
Unfortunately, Mr. Kinsey did not receive that courtesy and came close to losing his life, as the officer fired three times according to the story. That incident could have very well ended tragically for Kinsey or Rinaldo.
We believe both professions aim to protect and serve others and that police officers and therapists should join forces to attain their mutual goals.
Submitted by Kristen Cheung, Daisy Colin, Elizabeth Contreras, David Martinez, and Nancy Rivera, candidates for the masters in social work from CSULB.