An 18-year-old skater died yesterday after Miami Beach Police officers caught him tagging a building and then Tasered him.
Details about the death are still murky, but what is clear is that Israel Hernandez died before dawn Tuesday morning after cops caught him spray painting near 71st Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Police have yet to comment on the killing, but an officer near the scene confirmed that cops had fatally Tasered someone. Hernandez's friends on the Miami Beach skate scene are devastated.
"I just cant believe it," says 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."
Update: MBPD has released a statement and incident report confirming that Hernandez died after being Tasered. Police chased Hernandez after catching him tagging a building and used the electronic weapon when he refused to stop.
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. "He wasn't into partying... I've seen him drink a beer in the past but nothing to get fucked up...
"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."
MIA Skate Shop posted a photo of Hernandez on its Instagram feed today. Reactions ranged from outrage to heartbreak.
Lynch says the Hernandez family is not yet ready to talk. He also says that he and Hernandez had recently launched a project to design unusually shaped skateboard decks.
"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."
Riptide left several messages with Miami Beach Police spokespeople. We will update as soon as we hear from them.
Update: Here's the full statement from Chief Raymond Martinez:
At 5:14 a.m. on August 6, 2013, Miami Beach Police Officers observed a subject vandalizing private property (graffiti) on 71st Street and Collins Avenue. As Officers approached, the subject fled the scene, ensuing a foot pursuit by Officers. During the foot pursuit, the subject encountered Officers face to face at 71st and Harding Avenue, and ignored Officers' commands to stop. In order to affect his arrest, an Officer deployed his conducted electrical weapon (TASER). The subject was placed into custody.
Once in custody, the subject displayed signs of medical duress. Miami Beach Fire Rescue responded to the scene and transported the subject to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The subject has been identified as Israel Hernandez.
At this time, the cause of death has not been determined by the Medical Examiner's Office. Autopsy and toxicology results are still pending as well.
This incident is an open and ongoing investigation.
The City of Miami Beach would like to extend their condolences to the family of Israel Hernandez.
Update 2: Riptide has photos of the graffiti that got Hernandez killed. It's a single letter: "R." And it's painted on a dilapidated former McDonalds covered in graffiti and posters.
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Update 3: Here is the full police report surrounding Israel Hernandez's death.