Israel Hernandez was spray painting an abandoned building on Tuesday when Miami Beach police found and tasered him, leaving the 18-year-old skateboarder dead.
Details about the incident are not entirely clear, but police said Hernandez was attempting to tag the former McDonald’s building on Collins Avenue in the predawn hours on Tuesday. Police then chased the teen and used a taser when he refused to stop.
An officer on the scene confirmed that someone there had been tasered and died as a result.
Israel Hernandez only got as far as painting the “R” (he goes by Reefa to friends) when police caught him.
In the days after the killing, friends of Hernandez have spoken out against Miami Beach police and remembered Israel as a kind-hearted teen.
“I loved this person,” said Rafael Lynch, Israel’s best friend. “He was very different. He had a passion for skating and art and many other things. He taught me a lot.”
Lynch added that Israel Hernandez wasn’t into partying much but was passionate about skateboarding.
After the incident police chief Raymond Martinez spoke out about the killing, saying Hernandez started to have a medical emergency after being arrested.
In a written statement, Martinez said:
“During the foot pursuit, the subject encountered Officers face to face at 71st and Harding Avenue, and ignored Officers’ commands to stop. In order to affect his arrest, an Officer deployed his conducted electrical weapon (TASER). The subject was placed into custody.
Once in custody, the subject displayed signs of medical duress. Miami Beach Fire Rescue responded to the scene and transported the subject to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The subject has been identified as Israel Hernandez.
At this time, the cause of death has not been determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office. Autopsy and toxicology results are still pending as well.”
The killing of Israel Hernandez has generated quite a bit of controversy as well. When the Miami New Times blog Riptide broke the story of his death, their article received more than 500 comments. While many were outraged, some said Hernandez got what he deserved for vandalizing property.
“Great work by the officers,” one person wrote. “Society is putting taggers and skaters on notice: You’ve been f-ing warned. Break the law again at your own peril. Deadly force has now been used on a tagger and make no mistake about it, this is just the beginning. The gloves are off.”
Police said they are still investigating the death of Israel Hernandez.