Israel Hernandez Killing: One Year Later, a Lawsuit but No Answers

Categories: News

Israel_Hernandez_Instagram_MIA_Skateshop1.JPG
Instagram via MIA Skate Shop
Israel "Reefa" Hernandez
One year ago today, Miami Beach cops caught a tall, skinny teenager spray-painting the side of an abandoned McDonald's. A phalanx of police officers chased the curly-haired kid for seven minutes: Israel "Reefa" Hernandez clambered over fences and atop cars until he finally found himself cornered in front of a bank. That's when Officer Jorge Mercado pulled out his Taser and shot the 18-year-old in the chest.

What should have been a misdemeanor arrest went awry moments later, however, when Hernandez suddenly stopped breathing. The tragic story of Reefa's death -- first reported by New Times -- has taken twists and turns over the past 12 months. There have been protests, investigations, and, most recently, a lawsuit.

Tonight, Reefa's friends and family members will gather at the McDonald's where it all began to remember the graffiti artist and demand answers about his death.

See also: Israel Hernandez: Tasered to Death

Reefa's death was met with outrage. His friends at the scene claimed cops had high-fived one another after the arrest, effectively ignoring the dying teen.

Hernandez's family, meanwhile, argued that the handsome artist never should have been hunted down for something as trivial as tagging an abandoned building.

Miami Beach Police put Mercado on leave but quickly returned him to duty, stating that the officer had properly followed procedures and done nothing wrong.

But the officer came under question again when New Times revealed Mercado had also been accused of needlessly Tasering others, including an Army veteran.

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Michael E. Miller
Offir Hernandez (left) and her mother at a protest.
Reefa's family organized rallies to demand answers about the incident, and on March 6 -- seven months to the day after his death -- State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle admitted the teen had, in fact, been Tasered to death.

Five months later, Reefa's autopsy results still haven't been released. Also pending are investigations by Miami Beach PD and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

On May 28, Offir Hernandez filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Miami Beach over her brother's death.

Tonight, she and her family will join supporters at the abandoned McDonald's at 71st Street and Collins Avenue to remember Reefa. The vigil begins at 6 p.m.

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Michael E. Miller
A girl wipes her mother's tears during a march to protest Reefa's death
Send your tips to the author, or follow him on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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20 comments
DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter




You know what I see when I look at Israel Hernandez America's got a sad future ahead of it.He was engaged in defacing someone's property, and knew it, and ran His friends explained that they were using drugs together before they went out to vandalize.His relatives seem to forget that he was caught defacing private property. His friends Felix Fernandez and Thiago Souza said they had been serving as lookouts when he was seen by police. He was caught commiting a criminal act.I can only assume these people believe that vandalizing property and disobeying the police is an acceptable way of life. They continue this protest because they can't understand that most of society thinks his behavior is unacceptable and against the law.Teenager painting on walls is grounds for shots fired and or electrocution..this my friends is why we rate last in education. Just plain dumb.

This is not art it is Criminal Damage to property and this little
criminal decided to fight the law and as the song goes the law won.
People are cheering for this persons deviant behavior. Our society is
circling the drain of it's own destruction. It's called vandalism. Then
fleeing and alluding. If you want to express yourself do it on a canvas
or your mothers house. So let me get this straight, if the graffiti kid
complied, didn't run away, and listed to the police officers request to
stop, he would be alive today. Sounds to me if you comply, do as the
police say, take the arrest and possibly fight your charges in court,
you will more than likely come out of this situation without being tased



These people need to understand this behavior may be acceptable in their native country, but it's NOT acceptable in the US. They need to CHANGE their thought process to comply with the country they sought so diligently to uproot their entire life to move here.He was and is a criminal and was treated that way.i wish everyone would take turns spraying graffiti on their house and vehicles. after years of constantly cleaning off and removing the paint, maybe they'll understand what their twerp criminal did was wrong.


gregory.7222
gregory.7222

The only reason this issue stays in the news is because the kids family has money. He did something wrong then runs away from the police. The police only tasered the delinquent, and he just happen to die. The morons rave about police brutality but the police didn't start firing bullets at him.

Frankie Zuazo
Frankie Zuazo

I completely agree with you Mario, can you believe are still trying to defend this kid ?

Mario Diaz
Mario Diaz

My prayers go to the fam and the ignorant assholes that live in Miami that are Pro Police negligence.

Daniel Convers
Daniel Convers

Classy .... let's all meet up at McDonalds and tag up the place. SMH

Andrew J. Herrero
Andrew J. Herrero

Innocent people don't run. We don't live in a GTA game. When the police confront you, you confront them and not run like a criminal for the fun of it. I feel for his family and friends, never easy to lose a friend/loved one. But stop making him a martyr for police brutality when he put himself in that position.

Shawn Leidenfrost
Shawn Leidenfrost

The cop tortured him with a tazer for his own sick entertainment out of revenge for making him run. He could of easily detained the unarmed boy.

Gary David
Gary David

Spraying an abandoned building that is not yours when you don't have permission is vandalizing which is a crime. Which is why the cops approached him. Running from the cops is also a crime as is not cooperating when they try to arrest you; if you cooperate you don't get tased. And how the hell can you say the cops were trying to kill him when they tased him? Are you saying they knew he was going to go into cardiac arrest and die because that is very very rare when you think about the amount of people tased each day?

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

You are wrong Gary David so just because they are cops they have a right to kill anybody at any time and hav no respect for life, I don't think so plus the kid was unarmed and he was spraying a abandoned building, the cops were trying to kill him and its not a small percentage that suffer from being tased. Those cops should get fired then go to jail for life...

DrumRollPlease
DrumRollPlease

The Taser data logs should have been released by now.  If not it means the police are covering up the data logger information.  If the police delete the Taser logs they should be charged with destruction of evidence.  The Miami Beach police force should be taken over by the county. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Jake
Jake

Furthermore, when is the media going to get public records on the actual data generated by the taser(s) themselves, which log all info on their usage, including how many times the taser trigger was depressed, and for how long each time. STEP YO GAME UP

verdisvioletta
verdisvioletta

The family have a right to see the autopsy results. The police claimed he had drugs in his system to discredit the investigation and the autopsy results are clearly being kept form the family to avoid a defamation suit.  

Gary David
Gary David

Not this shit again... He was vandalizing property then ran when the cops came. They chased him and he kept running and refused to cooperate so he was tased. Unfortunately, he was one of the very extremely small percentage of the thousands and thousands of people tased each week that had it affect his heart killing him. The cops weren't trying to hurt or kill him!

cbsobe
cbsobe

@gregory.7222 In what realm of reality is police brutality exclusively restricted to the use, or not, of bullets?

MikeMillerMiami
MikeMillerMiami

@Jake Miami Beach Police have so far refused to release that data. I have requested it multiple times.

MikeMillerMiami
MikeMillerMiami

@Jake Reefa's friends have suggested he was using gold spray paint that night. The black "R" appears to be his as well, perhaps the beginning of a signature that he never got to finish.

cbsobe
cbsobe

But they did, and now must be held accountable and liable.

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