Appeals Court Overturns Conviction Of North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda, Who Shot At Unarmed Autistic Man

Appeals Court Overturns Conviction Of North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda, Who Shot At Unarmed Autistic Man

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – An appeals court Wednesday ordered a new trial for a former North Miami police officer who was convicted of culpable negligence in a high-profile shooting of a caretaker of an autistic man who had left a group home.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal said a circuit judge erred by refusing to allow a SWAT commander to testify about training Jonathan Aledda received related to hostage rescues.

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A jury found Aledda guilty of misdemeanor culpable negligence, and he was sentenced to one year of probation.

The 2016 shooting incident came after Arnaldo Rios-Soto, a man with developmental disabilities, ran from a group home and sat in the middle of an intersection while carrying a toy truck, according to Wednesday’s ruling.

Caretaker Charles Kinsey followed Rios-Soto to the intersection and told officers that Rios-Soto was holding a toy.

Ultimately, Kinsey got on the ground with Rios-Soto. Additional officers arrived, including Aledda, who thought Rios-Soto had a gun and was holding Kinsey hostage, the ruling said.

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Aledda thought Kinsey was in danger and fired his weapon, hitting Kinsey in the hip while missing Rios-Soto. While finding Aledda guilty of culpable negligence, the jury acquitted him of two attempted manslaughter charges.

The appeals court said Aledda contended that he had acted based on his training as a SWAT officer and that he should have been allowed to present testimony from a commander, Angel Rivera.

“While the state was allowed to present evidence as to how other officers on the scene responded to the situation, and how ‘shocked’ those officers were that Aledda fired his weapon, the trial court’s challenged evidentiary ruling precluded Aledda from presenting a key ingredient of his defense,” said the 16-page ruling, written by Judge Edwin Scales and joined by Judges Eric Hendon and Bronwyn Miller.

“Under the facts and circumstances of this case, we conclude that precluding Rivera’s testimony constituted reversible error, and that Aledda should be afforded a new trial.”

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