UPDATE (7-27-15): No Charges for Cop Who Killed Teen Boy
Unbelievably yet unsurprisingly, the officer who tased Israel Hernandez to death will not be charged.
Tasing the boy to death was deemed “an accident.”
The Miami Herald reports as follows:
For prosecutors, there was a crucial element in declining to charge a Miami Beach police officer for the August 2013 Taser death of graffiti artist Israel “Reefa” Hernandez-Llach.
The Taser stun gun, under state law and police policies, is considered a “non-lethal” weapon — making the teen’s death an accident, not manslaughter or murder, Miami State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Thursday after nearly two years of investigation.
A medical examiner confirmed that Israel’s death was caused by the officer’s taser gun.
MIAMI BEACH — A medical examiner has confirmed what killed a teenage artist who did not survive a controversial encounter with Miami Beach police: as first reported by the Miami Herald, it was the shock from an officer’s Taser, which produced “sudden cardiac death.”
The conclusion — that a Taser is the primary cause of death — is rare, and likely to stoke the ongoing debate over the safety of the devices and how they are used.
It also confirmed that 18-year-old Israel Hernandez, a graffiti artist known as “Reefa,” was not on drugs that caused his body to overheat, as police had suggested after his death.
According to the Herald, the toxicology report showed only marijuana in his system.
Hernandez died one early morning last August, shortly after Miami Beach police spotted him scrawling graffiti on an abandoned, paint-covered McDonald’s.
A foot chase ensued involving “more than half a dozen” officers, according to Miami New Times, and when Hernandez was cornered, Officer Jorge Mercado shocked him in the chest.
Watch the video:
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Two of Hernandez’s friends who witnessed the incident told WSVN that officers shoved Hernandez against a wall, then high-fived as he lay motionless.
His death prompted Hernadez’s family to file a lawsuit against the City of Miami Beach and its police, accusing officers of excessive force for their response to such a minor crime — a second-degree misdemeanor that would not likely have resulted in prosecution.
“Officers had no reasonable basis to fear for their own safety or the safety of the public,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit also claims police training and supervision is inadequate to prevent excessive force, and that officers are not properly trained to give medical attention after the use of a Taser.
“We’ve been saying it for seven months. [The medical examiner’s conclusion] is nothing new,” Israel Hernandez, Sr. told the Herald. “My son didn’t deserve the death penalty.”
The company that makes Tasers has warned police agencies against stunning suspects in the chest, citing an “extremely” low risk of “adverse cardiac event,” according to a report by the Arizona Republic.
But according to Miami New Times, the Miami Beach Police Department only advises against intentionally striking subjects in the “eyes, groin or face.”
An Amnesty International report from 2012 says some 500 people in the U.S. have died after being shocked with a Taser, though in nearly all cases the official cause of death cites something other than the weapon.