Miami policeman shoots unarmed carer of autistic man, lying on ground with hands in air

Krystal Johnson and agencies

An unarmed black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic man has been shot in the leg by a Miami police officer.

Footage of the encounter shows 47-year-old Charles Kinsey was lying on the ground with his hands in the air moments before he was shot.

The 23-year-old patient in Mr Kinsey's care had wandered from a nearby mental health centre carrying a toy truck.

Mr Kinsey had gone to retrieve him and was trying to coax him into returning to the facility when police arrived.

Charles Kinsey, 47, said he was trying to coax his 23-year-old patient with autism in Florida. Photo: Hilton Napoleon II

North Miami Police officers said they responded to a 911 call about a man with a gun threatening to kill himself.

Officers arrived "with that threat in mind" - but no gun was recovered.

Kinsey is seen in the footage lying on the ground with his arms and head raised, trying to calm his patient, who is sitting in the street playing with the toy truck, as four officers aim rifles at the pair.

"Lay down on your stomach," Kinsey says to his patient in the video.

"Shut up!" responds the patient, who is sitting cross-legged in the road.

Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself.

"I'm telling them again, 'Sir, there is no need for firearms. I'm unarmed, he's an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand," Kinsey said.

An officer fired three shots, striking Kinsey in the leg, police said.

The video doesn’t show the moment of the shooting.

Kinsey later asked an officer why he was shot and the officer said "'I don't know’”.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon II, released the video not giving out the name of the person who recorded it.

An officer shot the unarmed black man in the leg while he was lying on the road trying to calm his patient. Photo: Hilton Napoleon II

Napoleon did not provide information about who filmed it but he did say there was a two-minute gap in which the person who shot the video had switched off, thinking nothing more noteworthy would happen.

He also said officers handcuffed Kinsey and left him lying in the street on his stomach for 20 minutes, without rendering first aid.

While sitting in his hospital bed, recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg, Kinsey told media of the horrifying ordeal.

"As long as I've got my hands up, they're not going to shoot me. This is what I'm thinking. They're not going to shoot me," he told WSVN.

"Wow, was I wrong."

North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene called it a "very sensitive matter" and promised a transparent investigation and refused to identify the officer.

"I realise there are many questions about what happened on Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, we as a member of this police department and I also have questions," he said.

"I assure you we will get all the answers."

North Miami has a population of about 62,000 people, nearly 60 percent African-American.

The shooting took place in a racially mixed, lower-income area of the city.

Two can be seen in the video, peering from behind utility poles about 22 metres away.

Witness, Thomas Matthews, 73, said he watched the lead up to the shooting through binoculars.

North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene called it a

He said he tried to tell an officer that the autistic man had a toy truck but she told him to get back.

The incident comes amid weeks of violence involving police.

Five officers were killed in Dallas two weeks ago and three law enforcement officers were gunned down Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Before those shootings, a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot during a scuffle with two white officers at a convenience store.

In Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death during a traffic stop.

Cellphone videos captured Sterling's killing and aftermath of Castile's shooting, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.