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Jonathan Aledda

Other Miami-Dade County, Florida exonerations
At about 5 p.m. on July 18, 2016, Arnaldo Rios-Soto, a 26-year-old man with severe autism, ran away from his group home in North Miami, Florida, while clutching a silver toy truck. At the intersection of NE 127th Street and 14th Avenue, 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a mental health therapist at the group home, caught up to Rios-Soto.

Police were called based on a report that there was a man with a gun in the street. Thirty-year-old Jonathan Aledda, a four-year police veteran and a certified SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) officer, was one of 13 officers who responded.

Rios-Soto was sitting in the intersection and Kinsey was standing over him, directing traffic away from Rios-Soto. Kinsey, in response to an officer’s command, also got down to the pavement, on his back, and stretched out his arms toward the sky.

Rios-Soto was rocking back and forth, holding the truck. Aledda would later testify that he believed, based on a police radio report, that he was looking at a hostage situation and that Rios-Soto was holding a gun.

When Rios-Soto raised his hand, Aledda, who was 152 feet away, fired three shots at Rios-Soto. All missed their target, but one struck Kinsey in the right hip. No other officers fired their weapons.

The incident made national news and prompted an outcry against the police when cellphone video became public, showing Kinsey pleading for the police to back off.

On April 12, 2017, Aledda was charged with two counts each of attempted manslaughter, a felony, and culpable negligence, a misdemeanor.

In March 2019, Aledda went to trial in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. He testified that he believed Rios-Soto had a gun and was going to shoot Kinsey. The six-member jury acquitted Aledda on one count of culpable negligence for shooting at Rios-Soto, but was unable to reach a verdict on the attempted manslaughter charges and one count of culpable negligence.

In June, Aledda went to trial a second time. His defense lawyers sought to present testimony about Aledda’s SWAT training from Assistant Police Chief Angel Rivera, who had trained Aledda. The prosecution objected and the trial judge asked to hear what the testimony would be outside the presence of the jury.

The defense said that there were three criteria when firing in a hostage situation. The officer must reasonably believe that the subject has a hostage, that the subject’s words or actions indicate that he may harm the hostage, and that the subject has the means and ability to carry out the threat.

The trial judge barred the testimony, concerned that the testimony might confuse the jury if presented with a standard seemingly different from the one in the jury instructions.

On June 17, 2019, the jury acquitted Aledda of the attempted manslaughter charges and convicted him of culpable negligence for shooting Kinsey. Aledda was sentenced to one year on probation and ordered to write a 2,500-word essay on policing. Aledda was fired by the North Miami police Department a day after his sentencing.

Aledda appealed. On February 16, 2022, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The court held that Aledda should have been allowed to present the evidence of his SWAT training.

“The training undertaken by the professional would be relevant for the jury to consider in determining how and why the professional assessed and responded to the situation, and whether, under the circumstances surrounding the particular case, such assessment and response was objectively reasonable,” the court declared.

The court noted that Aledda’s theory of defense was that “his assessment of the situation, and his resulting actions, were based upon and consistent with his training as a SWAT officer, and that he was acting to protect, rather than to evince a reckless disregard for human life.”

The court declared, “How Aledda was trained, and the extent to which his actions were consistent with his training, directly relate to whether Aledda properly or negligently responded to the circumstances with which he was confronted.”

Meanwhile, Kinsey had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Aledda and the North Miami Police Department. That case was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2018.

On March 31, 2022, the prosecution dismissed the case.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle issued a statement saying, “As it is unlikely that Aledda would receive any additional significant punishment if he was convicted of a misdemeanor again in a third trial, we have made the difficult decision not to proceed with a third trial in this case."

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/14/2022
Last Updated: 11/14/2022
Most Serious Crime:Other Violent Misdemeanor
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2016
Age at the date of reported crime:30
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No