North Miami police Cmdr. Emile Hollant has been placed on administrative leave with pay after the state refused to pursue criminal charges against him for actions taken during a police-involved shooting last month.
Hollant was suspended without pay by North Miami three weeks ago, when the city manager and police chief determined he was trying to mislead them during an investigation into the police-involved shooting of behavioral specialist Charles Kinsey.
But last week the Miami-Dade state attorney refused to follow up with a criminal investigation into Hollant’s actions, saying he didn’t try to mislead investigators about his whereabouts during the shooting. Instead, the state determined, Hollant didn’t see a North Miami officer shoot Kinsey because Hollant had headed back to his patrol car to retrieve binoculars.
City Manager Larry Spring said Hollant’s upgrade in status was a combination of the state’s findings and contractual obligations the city has with its police union that has to do with paying an officer during an investigation.
“The final determination, we’re not there yet,” Spring said. “The [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] is investigating.”
When the FDLE passes along its conclusion to the state, Spring said, North Miami will begin conducting its own internal review involving the actions of its officers during the July 18 shooting of Kinsey.
Sources in North Miami said that Hollant, the supervising officer at the scene when Kinsey was shot, had said he wasn’t there Kinsey was shot, even after a radio transmission of his voice appeared to say that one of the two men may be loading a weapon.
Kinsey, 47, married and the father of five, was shot in broad daylight while he was lying in the roadway with his hands in the air — fully obeying police instructions. Beside him, sitting cross-legged on the ground and fumbling with a toy truck, was the severely autistic man he was caring for, Arnaldo Eliud Rios.
During the state’s investigation, Hollant said he was told the shiny object in Rios’ hand might have been a toy and that he headed for his patrol car to get binoculars so he could have a more clear view, when North Miami police Officer and SWAT team member Jonathan Aledda fired.
Police had found the men in the roadway near Northeast 127th Street and 14th Avenue after a 911 caller said she believed there was an armed man in the street threatening to hurt himself. She also warned he seemed to be suffering from mental issues and that there was a man there trying to help him.
As police moved in on Kinsey and Rios, Aledda fired three rounds with an assault rifle, one striking Kinsey in the right leg as he was lying on his back with his arms raised.
Aledda’s attorney said the officer had taken aim at Rios, fearing his toy truck was a weapon, but missed and struck Kinsey. The story and video obtained from someone at a nearby apartment during the interaction went viral and struck a chord with an already tense public.
The weapon police feared turned out to be the shiny silver toy truck.
Recent police shooting deaths of unarmed black men Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and the killing of eight police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas only intensified the issue for police and the public.
Kinsey is black, Rios, white Hispanic.
Hollant’s attorney had scheduled a news conference in North Miami earlier this week after the state’s findings, but abruptly canceled it.