Israel Hernandez Killing: Officer Who Tasered Teen Put on Leave, Family Ask Feds for Probe

On Tuesday, Miami Beach Police Officer Jorge Mercado fired a Taser into Israel Hernandez's chest following a chase that started with the teen getting caught tagging an abandoned McDonald's. Hernandez died soon after Mercado used the electronic weapon, and MPBD has now put the 13-year veteran on leave while investigating what happened.

Hernandez's family, meanwhile, called the teen's killing an "act of barbarism" and called for a federal probe.

See also: Teenager Israel Hernandez Dies After Miami Beach Cops Catch Him Tagging, Taser Him

Mercado's record is also drawing scrutiny after the teen's death. Hired in 2000, the officer had six complaints on file, including battery, excessive force and courtesy and respect violations, the Miami Herald reports. He was suspended 160 hours two years ago for violating the department's drug testing policies, though there are no details just yet how the broke the rules.

Hernandez's friends who were nearby when he was killed have offered disturbing details of the aftermath of his Tasering.

Thiago Souza lost sight of his friend when he ran from the police, but found him ten minutes later laying facedown after getting Tasered. He tells the Herald police were celebrating.

"He said 'you should have seen how funny it was when his butt clenched when he got Tased'" Souza says of the officer on the scene. "They were all clapping and doing high-fives all over his body. It was almost like they were proud of what they did.''

The teen's father, Israel Hernandez-Bandera, held a press conference yesterday to call for a federal probe into his son's death, describing it to Reuters as the "assassination of a young artist and photographer."

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink