Jonathon Aledda — the North Miami police officer who shot at an autistic man playing with a toy truck, wounding instead his black caregiver — is a Staples alumnus.
Aledda played Staples football, and was a hurdler on the high school track team. He graduated in 2004.
A 4-year veteran of the department, SWAT member and Officer of the Month in October 2014, he has been placed on administrative leave without pay.
The Miami Herald described the difficult challenges officers face:
As happens often with people who suffer from severe autism, the 27-year-old wandered away from his caregivers, in this case leaving a group home. Someone in the neighborhood misinterpreted his behavior, calling 911 while apparently mistaking his toy truck for a gun.
When North Miami police confronted the man sitting cross-legged in the middle of an intersection, he refused commands to lay down. That’s not unusual, experts say, for profoundly autistic people who cannot process verbal commands from police officers trained to think the worst.
“It looks like they’re being defiant, when in fact they have a disability,” said National Autism Association spokeswoman Wendy Fournier. “A lot of times they’re not verbal either, so they can’t even talk to police to explain why they are not responding.”
“This case is so crazy. I’m so glad that the man didn’t get shot and so grateful that his caregiver is going to be OK.”
The shooting of caretaker Charles Kinsey sparked widespread outrage Thursday after bystander video emerged showing him with his arms raised as police officers confronted the unnamed autistic man, who began hollering loudly. The president of North Miami’s police union said Thursday that the officer was aiming for the autistic man — fearing Kinsey was in danger — but hit the caretaker by mistake.