Israel Hernandez Killing: Protesters Demand State Attorney Charge Cop Who Tased Reefa
Friends of Israel "Reefa" Hernandez gathered this morning outside the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office to demand the arrest of the cop who killed the teenager.
Michael E. Miller Ethan Romano demands justice over his friend's death
Armed with an autopsy report confirming that Reefa died because he was Tasered -- and not because of drugs or "excited delirium," the condition often used to explain deaths connected to a Taser -- the protesters called on Katherine Fernandez Rundle to charge Miami Beach police officer Jorge Mercado for the August 6 incident.
"I want to see the man who killed my friend [put] in jail," said Reefa's friend, Ethan Romano. "Because if he can take a life, he should do life [in prison]."
Jorge Estomba, a member of the group Justice for Israel Hernandez, said he first learned details of the autopsy report on Thursday during a conversation with associate Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Shuman.
"Dr. Shuman told me, 'I have the report that I've been waiting for for 12 weeks because the Miami Beach Police Department has not sent me their report. But now I can tell you Mr. Estomba that the cause of death was a cardiac arrest due to the direct application of the Taser, of the electronic gun,'" Estomba said.
"That was as far as the conversation went," Estomba said. "There was no mention of any accident."
Today, however, the State Attorney's Office released a statement confirming that the autopsy report -- which has not been released -- deemed Reefa's death "accidental."
The State Attorney's Office is still reviewing the circumstances of the "In-Custody Death" of Israel Hernandez. While the recent Medical Examiner's conclusion of "accidental death due to electrical discharge" is an extremely important piece of information, our decision will be based upon the totality of the facts, including all of the reports from the City of Miami Beach Police Department. Once we have received everything from the police department, the State Attorney's Office will move toward finalizing our report based on the evidence, the testimony of witnesses and the law.
Estomba said Hernandez's family was outraged.
"Israel Hernandez Jr. did not fall on a Taser. Israel Hernandez Jr. was intentionally Tasered to death," he said. "Israel Hernandez Jr. committed a misdeameanor. He did not commit a crime. He did not have any weapons on him, according to all the police reports... Here is a man who weighed 140 some pounds and had seven police officers go to subdue him. They pushed him and they Tasered him. That's not an accident. That's premeditated. That is a crime. Let's make that clear.
"The family is very surprised and in shock, that's why they are not here," he said. "They are in shock and in grief that this... could be labeled an 'accident.' If that's the case, that's a joke. That is disrepectful. That is not justice."