Miami Beach Reels After Cops Kill a Teenager Over Graffiti

If Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez was thinking of a way to regain public trust after a string of embarrassing incidents involving his officers, this was not it: a dead teenager, a cop under investigation, and a community up in arms.

It all began last Wednesday morning, when New Times received a tip that Miami Beach cops had fatally Tasered someone the day before. By afternoon, after we broke the story, the tragic details went viral worldwide.

Israel Hernandez, an 18-year-old artist, skateboarder, and high school student, was tagging an abandoned McDonald's at the corner of Collins Avenue and 71st Street around 5 a.m. Tuesday when cops spotted him. They chased him several blocks, forcing him to jump over a fence and slam onto the hood of a car in his bid to escape. But cops cornered the kid.

What happened next isn't clear. Police claim the scrawny teenager rushed at them. What's certain is that Officer Jorge Mercado shot Hernandez in the chest with his Taser X26 gun.

Hernandez's friends say cops shoved the stunned skater into a wall, high-fived each other, and joked about the easy arrest. Only then did they notice Hernandez was dying. The teen was whisked to Mount Sinai Medical Center, but it was too late. Doctors declared him dead at 6:15 a.m.

Outrage exploded on the internet and around town. Thursday night, friends and family members met at the spot where Hernandez died, tagging their own farewell messages alongside his last spray-painted words. The dead teen's father, Israel Hernandez-Bandera, demanded an independent investigation into what he called an "assassination."

On Friday, the City of Miami Beach responded with an unusual request for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an independent review of the killing.

Those closest to Hernandez already have their minds made up, however: A kid should not have been chased and shot with a Taser for tagging a rundown eyesore of a building. "I just can't believe it," said Hernandez's best friend, Rafael Lynch, on the verge of tears. "I still have his hat and his board. They still smell like him. It's crazy."

Hernandez and Lynch often hung out together at MIA Skate Shop in Sunny Isles, where Lynch worked. Lynch says his friend, a Colombian immigrant who had only recently gotten his papers, was a brilliant and peaceful kid.

"This dude wasn't a regular dude," Lynch says. "I loved this person. He was very different. He had a passion for skating and art and many other things. He taught me a lot."

Hernandez and Lynch had planned to start their own business designing specially shaped skateboard decks. That dream has been shattered. "He had a short mission here in life, but it has affected the way I live for sure," Lynch says. "I can't do nothing to get him back. All I can do now is finish what we started, but it's just me now — alone."

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cops may be the greatest danger on the Beach. running over folks laying in the sand, shooting innocent people left and right, tazing youngsters for almost nothing.... there's no place you are safe from them except to leave the Beach.

frankd4 topcommenter

good thing the kid wasn't BLACK or we would hear it all over again and again AND i certainly hope the COP was hispanglish as well AND no we cannot tolerate graffiti or else no one would PAY the $30 to go to museums or the other $40 to PARK if they could see art on the street for FREE

i only wish the COPS would zap the slobs that throw trash all over the streets and other public places

and those homeless people should get zapped whenever they are found sleeping at our bus stops and on our park benches and in our libraries (say what ? we no longer have libraries? okay then, that will teach those homeless bastards we aren't foolong around no more)

and i think just like the nuns had rulers to wack kids with we should allow teachers to have these stun-guns in school to use on the kids so what if a few can't take it and drop dead

we bought these zappers with taxpayer money so let's use them

drakemallard topcommenter

It’s a crime, not art!  Graffiti, it’s everywhere.On freeway bridges, bus stops maybe your own property. But getting rid of it is a never-ending, expensive process.Fleeing the police, after they have identified themselves as police, is ALWAYS a chargeable offense. Once you flee from an officer, you can be charged with fleeing the police, even if you have done nothing wrong. The moral is: If a police officer asks you for I.D. or wants to handcuff you and you are innocent, do not run. Just comply. You can always file a complaint later, if the cop has acted inappropriately The criminal charge of fleeing a police officer is often added on to other criminal charges.

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.

drakemallard topcommenter

For the last 17 years, the North Beach residents and the business owners have been working hard to get the area revitalized and have changed it to be a desirable place to live in and for tourists from all over the world come visit. This has been accomplished with the help and support of the Miami Beach Police Officers assigned to North Beach.

The rebirth of North Beach took a long time and selfish actions, which do not take in consideration the effect on other people, are simply not acceptable. The North Beach businesses offer work for local people, who feed their families with the business movement in the area. At the same time, the majority of the residents appreciate living in a safe and clean area where tourism is welcome because it gives life to this part of Miami Beach.

When private property gets tagged with graffiti, property owners are required by Miami Beach Code Enforcement to paint right away, spending funds that could very well be used for other positive things.

It is very tragic what has taken place with the death of a young man, who instead of using his talents in a positive way, decided to risk his freedom by doing what he very well knew was wrong. His selfish actions brought him to a confrontation with the police officers looking after a community. They had no intention of causing death to anyone by using a working tool provided to them to be used on those who refused to listen to a police officer order when caught breaking the law.

Instead of promoting the defacing of private property, violence and disrespect to the police officers, people should use a little common sense. It is not difficult to understand that all human beings have the capacity to differentiate right from wrong and the capacity to understand that actions have consequences, without forgetting that the first action is what leads to what then will follow. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN RIGHT, SO WHEN THEY GO OUT TO SOCIETY THEY CANNOT REGRET THEIR ACTIONS LATER.

It is important for the news to take to their viewers another point of view of what has taken place.



I agree.  this kid had a choice.  he made several bad choices.

defacing property was his 1st error. 

running from police his second, and third was trying to run once cornered.


They chased him several blocks, forcing him to jump over a fence and slam onto the hood of a car in his bid to escape. But cops cornered the kid.


Forcing him to jump a fence?    Really?  he was forced to try an escape? 

he had the choice of surrendering, and paying for his errors.

and honestly, Police had no idea that a taser would kill him.

-had they used force (nightsticks, there would have been more outrage...

which is what will happen if tasers are no longer used.   

Nightsticks were the non lethal weapon of choice before tasers....





@drakemallard You are a complete waste of life. I seriously hope you make your toast while in the bathtub.



Yes, you are all right. He broke the law and ran away from police. He was tasered not shot. The problem is that  99% of the time when police taser someone they like to do it repeatedly. The victim will be on the floor incapacitated and they will keep on tasering them. That's  the F***ING PROBLEM with these ASS***** with badges!!! NO ONE DESERVES TO DIE FOR TAGGING. Miami Beach Police resolves everything with BRUTAL and DEADLY FORCE..........

drakemallard topcommenter


 His dad is right. Too many cops ARE barbarians. However, had Mr. Hernandez-Llach been an African American or Haitian American, the police would have killed him with gunfire, not a taser. This is a tragedy which unfortunately was caused by the victim...he was tasered not shot...there was not intention to kill him but simply stop him since he ran's the problem now...his family's lawyer was at rally, they will file a lawsuit, seek millions and, yes, the taxpayers pays again.

 Well, I guess I won't be out at 5:00 am, spray painting property that doesn't belong to me and then fleeing and alluding when the police show up to arrest me for vandalism. But then again, it would make me a martyr for anarchists who believe that breaking the law is OK as long as they like the picture I paint.

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