Teen Graffiti Artist Dies After being Tasered by Miami Police, Family wants Answers
Family members of 18-year old Israel Hernandez-Llach want answers from the police who Tasered the teen and later died, early Tuesday morning.
The teen was a sculptor, painter, writer and photographer whose craft was inspired by his home country of Colombia and his adopted city, Miami.
Israel Hernandez-Llach was also a graffiti artist known as “Reefa,” who sprayed colorful painting on the city’s abandoned buildings while running from the cops, who consider graffiti to be vandals, not artists.
It was while spray-painting an abandoned McDonald’s around 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning that Hernández-Llach was chased down by Miami Beach police and shot in the chest with a Taser. He later died.
Officers began chasing Hernandez and despite several warnings to stop, police say he continued to run. According to police, Hernandez and the officers met face-to-face at 71st and Harding Avenue, where an officer fired his Taser at him.
After officers took Hernandez into custody, according to the incident report, he started to show symptoms of medical distress and Miami Beach Fire Rescue was dispatched to the scene.
Hernandez was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Thiago Souza says police told him he was already dead on the scene.
The Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to determine the cause of Hernandez’s death and have ordered more tests.
Two Hernandez-Llach’s friends, including one who says he was his “lookout” while Hernández-Llach applied paint, told Miami Herald they saw the officers exchanged high-fives and congratulations after Tasering him.
“He was on the ground and the cops were making jokes,” said 19-year-old Thiago Souza.
“They tried to lift up his arms and they would just fall, they would just collapse back to the floor,” said Hernandez’s friend Rafael Lynch.
“They were making fun of how he tensed up when he got ‘tazed’, they were just laughing ‘Oh you should have seen him’,” said Souza.
Another friend believes Hernandez may have ran because he was worried about his immigration status.
CBS Miami reported that Internal Affairs will interview all the officers involved in the incident which include, Ofc. Thomas Lincoln, Ofc. Jorge Mercado, Ofc. Cormilus Lattimore and Sgt. Rey Aguilar.
Hernandez’s family has hired an attorney.
The Miami Herald reports the death is under investigation by the city and the state attorney's office.
"The city of Miami Beach would like to extend their condolences to the family of Israel Hernandez," Chief Ray Martinez.
Teen Dies After Being Tasered By Miami Police
A Miami Beach teen died Tuesday after being shocked with a taser in the chest after police spotted him painting graffiti on an empty building. Israel Hernandez, 18, was a skateboarder and artist who "wanted to change the world somehow through art," his sister, Offir Hernandez, told the Miami Herald.