News Americas, MIAMI BEACH, FL, Fri. Aug. 9, 2013: A Colombian-born teen who moved to Miami with his family less than seven years ago is dead after Miami Beach police chased him down and shot in the chest with a Taser.
Israel Hernández-Llach, 17, was chased down and tasered after found spray-painting a shuttered McDonald’s early Tuesday morning. He later died.
His family says Hernandez was already an award-winning artist, on the threshold of acclaim in Miami Beach art circles. He was a sculptor, painter, writer and photographer whose craft was inspired by his home country of Colombia and his adopted city, Miami.
Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez said Hernandez was confronted by officers about 5 a.m. as he was vandalizing private property, and he fled, leading officers on a foot chase. It ended at 71st and Harding when he was cornered by police and ran toward the officers, ignoring commands to stop, Martinez said.
“The officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident,’’ the chief said.
He was hit once in the chest and collapsed, Martinez said, at which point officers noticed he was showing signs of distress. He was transported by fire-rescue to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
But two of the dead teenager’s friends, including one who says he was the “lookout” while Hernández-Llach applied paint, said the officers exchanged high-fives and congratulations after Tasering him.
“He was on the ground and the cops were making jokes,” 19-year-old Thiago Souza told the Miami Herald.
An autopsy and further tests are pending.
The family’s lawyer, Todd McPharlin, said his clients would like an independent investigation of the incident.