The city of North Miami said it intends to fire Jonathon Aledda, the police officer convicted earlier this week of culpable negligence for the shooting three years ago of a healthcare worker who was lying in the street with his hands in the air while trying to protect his autistic patient.
Though convicted of the single misdemeanor charge that could carry a sentence of up to one year by a jury Monday night, Aledda was cleared of two more serious charges, felony counts of attempted manslaughter. A previous jury had deadlocked, forcing a retrial.
On Tuesday, North Miami Police Maj. Annmarie Cardona said Aledda had been sent a letter of intent to terminate while being placed on administrative leave without pay.
“We respect the criminal justice system and we are empathetic to the feelings of all who have been affected by this tragic incident,” she wrote in a statement.
Aledda, a member of the police department’s SWAT unit, said he fired three times at 27-year-old Arnaldo Rios Soto as he sat in the middle of a roadway in the city nervously twirling a silver toy truck. But he missed his target, instead striking the leg of Rios’ therapist, Charles Kinsey, who was lying on the road next to Rios pleading with officers not to fire.
Aledda said he believed the truck was a gun and that Rios was threatening Kinsey. He said he didn’t hear radio communications from other officers who said what Rios was holding might not have been a gun.
Though the jury found reasonable doubt with the state’s manslaughter charge, it determined Aledda was negligent because, the foreman said, he didn’t take into account the safety of the community when he fired his weapon.
The shooting in the summer of 2016, aided by an iconic shot taken from a cellphone video of Kinsey lying on his back with his hands up as he sat next to Rios, drew national outrage and heightened criticism of police tactics during a tense summer between police and activists who were sparring over use-of-force tactics.
Aledda was the first police officer in Miami-Dade County to be charged with an on-duty shooting since 1989.