News: Miami Writer Killed by Cops
An 18-year old kid with a skateboard and a spray can was Tasered to death by Miami Beach Police officers on the morning of Tuesday, August 8th after he was caught tagging a shuttered fast-food restaurant. The skater, Israel Hernandez, was caught painting near 71st Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. It was confirmed by an officer on the scene that police had fatally Tasered Hernandez.
According to his friends in the Miami skate scene, Hernandez “wasn’t a regular dude,” in the sense that he wasn’t a big partier and wasn’t into drinking. “He had a passion for skating and art and many other things,” his friend Rafael Lynch told the Miami New Times. Although only 18 years old, Hernandez was already a sculptor, painter, writer, and photographer, as well as a graffiti writer known by the tag name Reefa.
After being caught tagging the building, Hernandez was chased down by cops and shot once in the chest with the Taser gun, fatally wounding him. Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez has said, “the officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident.” The police report recounts a wild chase preceeding the Tasing, with Hernandez leading cops through alleyways and apartment buildings, jumping a fence and landing on the hood of a car, at which point he lost his balance and fell on his chest. Officers transported Hernandez to Mount Sinai Hospital when he began showing signs of duress after the Taser shot to his chest. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Many people who knew Hernandez have attested to his artistic merit. The young man had art works on view at many local galleries and museums, and had recently designed a line of skateboards. “His art was everything to him,” his friend Eleanor West told the Miami Herald. Unfortunately, police consider graffiti to be vandalism, not art. This divergence of values led to the events that fatally wounded Hernandez on Tuesday morning.
Source: Miami New Times, Miami Herald.
Photos: Miami Herald.