Charles Kinsey is lucky to be alive.
Unlike Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two other black men shot by police in the past month, Kinsey, who was shot by North Miami police on Monday, was hit in the leg and survived his wound. The behavioral therapist was trying to help an autistic patient in distress when police approached with guns drawn. They were apparently responding to a 911 call about an armed man threatening suicide, but as cellphone video of the runup to the shooting makes clear, Kinsey did everything he possibly could to reassure the officers that neither he nor his patient was a threat. While the autistic man played with a toy truck in the street, Kinsey lay on his back, with his hands up, telling the officers that no one on the scene—other than the police themselves—was armed. Kinsey was shot anyway.
New details emerged overnight about the circumstances of the shooting, as well as its disturbing aftermath. In an interview with local news station WSVN, Kinsey recalled the moments immediately after he realized he’d been hit in his right leg with a bullet. From the Washington Post:
“My life flashed in front of me,” he told WSVN, adding that his first thought was of his family.
His second thought was one of confusion.
“When he shot me, it was so surprising,” he said. “It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I’m like, I still got my hands in the air, and I said, ‘No, I just got shot.’ ”
“Sir, why did you shoot me?” Kinsey recalled asking the officer.
“He said, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
The exchange wasn’t captured on video—so far two pieces of footage have surfaced, one from right before the shooting and one from right after—but if Kinsey’s account is accurate, it suggests the officer who fired at him knew right away that he’d used potentially lethal force for no good reason. Not that the shooting was an accident: The officer, who has not yet been identified by North Miami Police Department, pulled his trigger three times, which suggests a deliberate decision.
According to the WSVN interview, Kinsey was most upset by what the officers on the scene did after he’d been hit. Instead of helping him, they cuffed him and the man he’d been trying to help, then let him lie on the ground for nearly a half hour before he received medical care. Here’s Kinsey to WSVN again: “They flipped me over, and I’m faced down in the ground, with cuffs on, waiting on the rescue squad to come. I’d say about 20, about 20 minutes it took the rescue squad to get there. And I was like, bleeding—I mean bleeding and I was like, ‘Wow.’ ”
A hospital spokeswoman told CNN that Kinsey is in good condition. After a month of astonishing violence, that’s a relief, but it’s frightening to imagine how easily the situation could have ended differently.