Florida‘s reputation in the realm of law enforcement was hit yet again with another bad mark. A 17-year-old Miami graffiti artist who gave chase was killed early Tuesday morning after cops shot him with a Taser gun.
The Miami-Herald reported on the death of Israel Hernández-Llach, an award-winning artist, sculptor and painter who was a native of Colombia. Writing under the graffiti tag “Reefa,” Hernández-Llach had a reputation for spreading his art on abandoned buildings in his adopted city. Early Tuesday (August 6) morning, Hernández-Llach and a group of friends were spray-painting a shut-down McDonald’s location.
According to the reports and witnesses, around five Miami Beach police officers chased Hernández-Llach down after approaching him around 5 a.m. that morning. Hernández-Llach fled the scene and the police pursued and cornered the boy. It was reportedly said he ran because he did not want to lose his residency in the States.
Félix Hernández, one of the friends, said he saw cops shove Félix Hernández against a wall then later surrounded him. “He was on the ground and the cops were making jokes,” said 19-year-old Thiago Souza. Souza also said the officers exchanged high-fives and peals of laughter.
Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez offered condolences to the family of Hernández-Llach, but said the use of the Taser was necessary to avoid physical conflict. Hernández referred to his slain friend as “very skinny, very small,” but apparently posed some manner of threat to the officers. The boy led the cops on a zigzag chase through alleyways and older buildings before he was cornered and shot once in the chest with the Taser.
Although an official cause of death has not been announced, the Taser use is not being ruled out. The family, deep in mourning, has hired a lawyer, and they are in talks to have an independent investigation launched.
Watch CBS Miami’s video report on the death of Hernández-Llach below. Hit the following pages to see pictures of Reefa, his family and some of his artwork.
Photos: Miami-Herald, Hernández-Llach Family