Israel Hernandez Killing: Family Is Furious Over Allegations That Teen Took Hard Drugs

Categories: News

Reefa_family.jpg
Michael E. Miller
Israel Hernandez's family is furious that law enforcement officials have suggested he was on cocaine at the time of his death.
As 200 protesters chanted and waved signs, Israel Hernandez's sister voiced the concern that had drawn so many to South Beach on a Sunday afternoon. "Today, I [still] do not know why my brother died," Ofir Hernandez shouted to the crowd. "They have not given us answers."

In fact, Miami Beach authorities aren't just sitting on the autopsy report of the 18-year-old who died August 6 when police Tasered him after catching him tagging an abandoned McDonald's. Some cops are using the information vacuum to impugn Israel's public image. In a September 29 article, the Miami Herald cited "multiple law enforcement sources" as suggesting that Hernandez was on cocaine at the time of his death. The evidence: that the teenager supposedly had a body temperature "well over 102 degrees over an hour after [he was] pronounced dead."

But family members and at least one Taser expert both says that explanation is bogus.

See also: Reefa Rally on Lincoln Road: Israel Hernandez's Family Demands Answers Over Teen's Death

"An overheated body is common among people who have been ruled as having died of excited delirium," the article continued, defining excited delirium as "a rare brain malfunction -- often fueled by cocaine or mental illness."

The implication: that Hernandez didn't die from an ill-advised Tasering by Miami Beach cops but from a freak accident caused by his own cocaine use.

"How can they try to say that he did cocaine?" Ofir asks. "We don't even have the autopsy report yet, so why are they saying that? Why are they trying to [sully] his name?"

MBPD spokesman Robert Hernandez declined to comment, saying only that he had no idea who spoke to the Herald about the case. He added that cops were waiting for the State Attorney's Office to authorize the release of autopsy results.

Ofir Hernandez, meanwhile, says her brother hardly drank alcohol, let alone did cocaine. Aside from occasionally smoking marijuana -- which is not linked to heart problems or excited delirium -- he was healthy. "I'm 100 percent sure that he did not use any chemical drugs," she says.

In fact, there are many reasons Hernandez might have had a body temperature of 102 degrees well after his death, says Dr. Douglas Zipes, a cardiologist at the University of Indiana and an expert on Tasering deaths. "Maybe the youngster was sick and had the flu," Zipes says.

More likely, it was a result of Hernandez trying to elude police -- sprinting down alleys, jumping over fences, and landing on cars -- for more than seven minutes before being Tasered in the chest.

Another factor is Miami's heat. "Body temperature generally falls about 1.5 degrees per hour after death," Zipes says. "But that depends on the environment the body is in... This was Miami in the middle of the summer." (Weather reports show the temperature was above 80 degrees when Reefa was killed.)

By suggesting Israel was on drugs, cops are trying to shift the blame from themselves to the slain teenager, his sister says.

The Hernandez family has filed a lawsuit against the City of Miami Beach over his death, accusing cops of using excessive force and failing to give Israel -- known as Reefa among his fellow artists -- medical attention.

"We want to know what happened," she says, close to tears. "Why is it taking so long?"

Follow Michael E. Miller on Twitter.

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35 comments
Versace_Versace
Versace_Versace

Oh and Norman Brahman is trying to put some puppets back in Miami Beach this election. HMMMM what does Norman Brahman have to do with this story. Well he runs the Miami Herald and he will fire any reporter that reports anything negative about Miami Beach. Think I am lying, the last reporter they had that would spill all the dirt about the beach , well ....they transferred him to cover the dade county public school system lol. So moral of my story don't listen to the Miami Herald when it comes to Miami Beach. Because they are full of shit..Versace,versace,versace,versace

Versace_Versace
Versace_Versace

Versace,versace ,versace ,versace /somebody lied that he took a molly...I would say 5 million just like the woman who got run over by the beach cops. They bout to get paid

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

you know what that means...time to sue them for millions

Valyn Calhoun
Valyn Calhoun

shut up, daniel. it's no surprise it's taking so long .. takes a minute to cook up a fake autopsy report

internetinternet
internetinternet

Miami Beach Gov slanders dead people to protect their unions and then hides behind a city attorney.  Citizens versus city officials.  Who is going to win the battle? 

Frankie Zuazo
Frankie Zuazo

The police officers violated his civil rights when they confronted him while he was breaking the law. The police officers had no business bothering that artist while he defaced private\public property. For shame !

Daniel Convers
Daniel Convers

He shouldn't have been breaking the law and then trying to run away.

Chard Beauregarde
Chard Beauregarde

This. Please do your civic duty and film any incidents involving the police and citizens. It's perfectly legal to do so in public spaces and you never know if you're going to catch any evidence of abuse that would be used in their defense.

Fulano De Tal
Fulano De Tal

Sensitive? Fuck that. Like you said. A person died. I'm not gonna be sensitive I'm gonna be furious

Sabel Santa
Sabel Santa

Regardless of what you think about the police, govt, the kid and his "crimes" the point of the matter is a person died. Please be sensitive to that fact before dishing out your daily internet serving of your unrequited opinion.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

When his friends were asked if they were mixing drugs and alcohol they said, "No, we were not mixing alcohol and drugs, nothing like that. We smoked a little bit and then he had a cigarette, and that's it," said Souza. "No alcohol, no pills, nothing." 

smell like bullshit to me they where mix mixing alcohol and drugs

Upon further questioning, Souza admitted they had smoked some weed before. "Yeah a little bit. Like a little bowl. Not that much," said Souza



Mercy Mercy-Me
Mercy Mercy-Me

The taser companies specifically warn not to taser anyone in the chest because it can be lethal. What did the police do? tasered him in the chest. On those grounds alone, they should be held culpable. Had they used their weapon properly, the kid would probably still be breathing.

Fulano De Tal
Fulano De Tal

Actually being that so many people die from these tazers they're trying to ban them. Less lethal yes but I'd someone had a heart condition it's lethal anytime you add electricity to the body it's a chance of death. And history shows that tazers are lethal and excessive

Johnathan Robert Broad
Johnathan Robert Broad

It was a tragedy, but not use of excessive force. The kids ran and it is safer for police to taser someone than tackle them and jump on top of them. More people die from having 4-500 lbs of pressure put on top of them than they do from 10,000 volts. That said, if he did have cocaine in his system, it only proves that he was a felon and not just someone who commits misdemeanors, which is still wrong. The disturbing part to me is MBPD's lack of transparency. How many people have they killed in recent years and then covered up or not released the information? That Memorial Day shoot-out is the first thing that comes to my mind... Miami Beach has serious problems within their government and changes need to be made. There are elections right around the corner and at this scale, your votes actually mean something. Get out and vote people! Out with the old and in with the new. If you remove the current government, there is a better chance that these thugs will stop getting away with murder.

Lai Fern
Lai Fern

Leslie you obviously don't have any children and if you have children you have no compassion

cobaltblu
cobaltblu

Why do people make it hard on themselves?  All this ignorant refusal to obey the police when they their guns drawn makes it hard for everyone.   Over a Misdemeanor?   Idiot.

Mercy Mercy-Me
Mercy Mercy-Me

There is a shocking lack of empathy with some people on here that's truly disturbing.

Zeinab K. Chatila
Zeinab K. Chatila

Truly a disgrace to know that my tax dollars are going to scums that claim they are "protecting" our community.... from what? graffiti artists? Outrageous and intolerable. It's time to get off your high horse, idiots.. If you morons want something to brag about, take down a drug dealer, a murderer, a rapist, not a teenage kid with a spray paint can...

Joe Matos
Joe Matos

Anyone can have a medical issue or be on drugs that the police do not know about and get killed by a taser

Rafael Velez Jr
Rafael Velez Jr

Miami Beach police is bullshit. What ever excuse to get themselves out of the spotlight. FILM THE POLICE

Diana Shapiro
Diana Shapiro

Ridiculous loss of life. Tasered for graffiti. Where are the punked out skaters marching and picketing?

Fulano De Tal
Fulano De Tal

What does this have to do with the child's using excessive force? And what do the drugs have to do with the cops celebrating after they got him? I hate when lawyers try to bring irrelevant shit to the case. His drugs didn't contribute to his death. The cops did. Did they drug test the cop? I wonder if he (they) had anything in their system

internetinternet
internetinternet

Police are on the offensive because the data logger from the TASER will show repeated and prolonged jolts.  Is this not correct city attorney?  I thought so. 

Versace-Versace
Versace-Versace

@Frankie Zuazo  When ju  say breaking the law...Ju mean a misdemeanor,en cuba dey kill people for that bro.But wait this isnt a communist Island or regime. This is America where you have due process,and escalation of force policy's that your law enforcement officers are to follow, which stop this type thing from happening.I am loco anyway.Versace/Versace/Versace

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

@Zeinab K. Chatila  

Let the vandals come graffiti your house since its no big deal then

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

@Fulano De Tal  

If he was high on coke it most certainly did contribute to his death

Versace_Versace
Versace_Versace

@internetinternet  Hey give the city attonerys a break, they are taking out thier check books as we speak.Versace/Versace /Versace

pirtdab
pirtdab

@miamitrev2 he wasn't tagging a house asshole.  
It was an ABANDON Mc Donald's. 

pirtdab
pirtdab

@miamitrev2 That's a BIG f*&%ing "IF"
Only brought out so the pigs can smear the victim as they try to cover their own ass. 

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

@pirtdab @miamitrev2  

Whats with the name calling and profanity?  Looks like I struck a nerve!  In addition to manners it looks like you also need to learn English. The word in ALL CAPS that you were fumbling for is abandon(ED).    But no,  the building is unoccupied, not abandoned.    Someone owns the building and your parents should have taught you not to touch, or in this case deface, what isnt yours.  Very simple concept 

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