17-year-old immigrant graffiti artist dies after being Tased by Miami cops
Police in Miami Beach say they are investigating the death of a 17-year-old graffiti artist who died after being Tasered by officers.
Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez told The Miami Herald that Israel Hernandez-Llach — who was known as “Reefa” in the local graffiti and skateboarding scene — began running when officers confronted him about “tagging” an abandoned McDonald’s.
“The officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident,” Martinez explained.
Hernandez-Llach collapsed after being hit once in the chest. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and later died.
One witness told WFOR that police were “congratulating” each other and “making fun” of Hernandez-Llach after he was shocked by the Taser. But those remarks do not appear in the official police report. The report also does not mention the Tasing.
According to a friend, Hernandez-Llach may have been running because he was an undocumented immigrant and feared being deported. Other friends said that he had been smoking marijuana in the hours before his death.
The medical examiner completed an autopsy on Wednesday but did not rule on a cause of death. Hernandez-Llach’s family said that they had hired a lawyer.
Watch this video from WFOR, broadcast Aug. 8, 2013.