Teen graffiti artist shot with Taser in Miami dies

| 08/08/2013

(CNS): A 17 year old graffiti artist living in Miami Beach died soon after he was shot by a police Taser gun after officers chased him down when he was spotted working on an a city wall. According to local reports Israel Hernandez-Llach was an award-winning artist, known as “Reefa,” who used the city’s abandoned buildings as a canvas for his colourful work while playing cat-and-mouse with cops, who consider graffiti taggers to be vandals, not artists. On Tuesday morning Hernandez-Llach was chased down by police and shot in the chest with a Taser and he died soon after. Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez said Hernandez-Llach was confronted by officers and he fled, leading officers on a foot chase.

It ended when he was cornered by police and according to them ignored commands to stop. “The officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident,’’ the chief told the Miami Herald.

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.

Tasers were introduced into the Cayman Islands in January of this year and so far police have deployed the weapon's on two occassion without any resulting significant injury to the victims being reported. However, only a few details have been released in connection with both incidents and the RCIPS have yet to reveal any of the VT footage automatically taken when a Taser is fired.

In Miami following the teens death the chief of police offered his condolences  to the teens family. “The death remains under investigation by the city and the state attorney’s office," he added.

Tasers are considered a nonlethal weapon, and police say their use has greatly reduced the number of fatalities in confrontations between police and violent subjects. Hernandez-Llach  had no history of violence and his only previous arrest was for shoplifting, and that there was no indication he was involved in gang activity.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/07/3548779/graffiti-artist-dies-after-tasering.html#storylink=cpy

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If they hadn't had a taser, they would have had to club him. Stuff happens, it's an imperfect world.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You run from the cops, you take your chances.  No sympathy for criminality and stupidity.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The "cops" (plural…meaning there was more than one cop) had him "cornered" and by the photo this young man is no steroid muscle man! So I find it very unlikely that the cops truly needed to Taser him. Why not simple wrestle him to the ground?

    This seems a case similarto what Clinicians / Experts have determined where cops (ssemingly more so in USA) drive get involved in high speed chases and create much more danger than required….because the cops allow their adreneline to get out of control. 

    Just because a cop doesn't like someone disobeying their instructions does NOT give them the right to lose their cool and use excessive force! At least it should NOT give the right. 

    Seems the cops far over-reacted to an unarmed kid disobeying them! And I imagine a court of law will find the same!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why should a policeman needlessly risk injury? The use of a taser is not inappropriate. The death is however tragic.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: "Risk Injury"….that is normally understood to sometimes be a part of Police work!

        The more important question is; Why should the public have to risk injury, or even death, for a crime as trivial as disobeying the Police…when the public is clearly unarmed?

  4. Libertarian says:

    I hope news like this doesn't hinder us from having tasers for our personal self-defense and protection from home evasions. If the police can have them, why can't the civilians too?  Unless you want to enforce a UK police state on the populous by preventing civilians from having them indefinitely. My two cent.

  5. Kim Angelina says:

    If this kid was running its obvious that his heart would be beating at a fast pace. Then to shock him in the chest, probably very close to his heart could very well be the reason for his death. Its sad becuase a talented young life is taken for self expression. Miami PD has a lawsuit coming their way.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don't commit crimes and don't run from police.

    • Dreadlock Holmes says:

      Don’t commit crimes. I understand what you’re saying, but let’s put this in perspective. What was his crime Graffiti? In your mind is that a serious crime? What kind of force should be used when this happens? Now for a moment relate that to thewar crimes upheld and perpetrated by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Torture, unlawful imprisonment, extraordinary rendition, random bombings. No police intervened there. But the American people should have. You see it’s all a matter of degree. Spray paint some walls and you get tasered to death. Destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands and nothing happens.

      • Hoping for better days says:

        You are right. Sadly, you are expecting most of the readers on here to have a bit of insight. That they do not have…It is a fact that the police are indeed using excessive force to stop someone who was standing around spraying some colour on a few buildings. This person wasn't harming anyone, wasn't intending to harm anyone. etc etc….so YES the police used excessive force and of course the public view the boy as some kind of menace. WRONG. hardly….more like an artist who could do with a scholarship to a nice art school instead of wasting his talents on the streets, but all that's irrelevant now seeing as the kid is DEAD. Bottom line, he is gone. POLICE….are over-rated, they hardly do anything worth mentioning or giving creidt for. If the police can have mace and tazers, I want the same privelidge and as a citizen will use my discretion much better than these officers. If I caught a kid, adult, person non-the less spraying my walls I wouldn't feel the need to tazer him/her. However, if that person were to threaten my life I would fee obliged to do so….make sense???? It is not today that police officers have been known to abuse their power and believe they are above the law….yawn…some things never change….

  7. Anonymous says:

    Of course given the widespread possession of guns in the US the use of force to restrain unco-operative suspected criminals is more reasonable than in many parts of the world.  The price many pay for the lovely 2nd Amendment.  This individual chose to run, he chose to take the chances of the repurcussions.  I would rather than the suspect who runs is injured or killed than a brave cop suffers the same fate.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is only a matter of time before someone is killed by this "non-lethal" weapon here.  Then what will be the fallout locally.  These devices have been removed from use by many law enforcement agencies in the wake of a long string of deaths inflicted by this alleged "non-lethal" weapon!


    Any device that delivers such a shock to the body, especially in the upper regions of the chest is potentially lethal in that it can interrupt the action of the heart, causing almost instantaneous DEATH.  Any such shock to the heart can case long-term damage even if it does not kill immediately.  Some victims have lost an eye when one of the darts pierced it in the encounter. Will it take such a tragedy here before our local storm troops stop using them??

    "According to a widely publicized Amnesty International study last year, 334 people in the U.S. plus 25 more in Canada died between 2001 and 2008 after being zapped with a Taser by cops. The Taser's defenders say it beats shooting people and reduces the risk of stray bullets injuring bystanders. Wrong argument, says AI. The Taser isn't a replacement for guns but rather for billy clubs and such — for a lot of cops it's become the default method of subduing the unruly. OK, getting whupped upside the head in the old days wasn't a pleasant experience, but at least it didn’t involve 50,000 volts."

    – Source: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2865/how-dangerous-are-tasers


    See also:




    "In Glendale, Colo., Glen Leyba was on his apartment floor, thrashing violently. A police officer, hoping to control him, stunned him three times, before he died. While the coroner blamed a drug overdose, the family blames multiple, unnecessary electric shocks, Andrews reports."

    Shelly Leyba, Glen's sister, says, "Glen was in a medical emergency, down on the ground, no threat."
    – Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500202_162-648859.html

    So, I guess it's let's see what develops.  I have personally witnessed a local person being threatened by an officer with this device, and who "dared him to use it on him" which will likely be the typical response in many circumstances.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ignorant cops. Why would you taze a kid for tagging? What threat did a spray can pose to the officers to warrant the use of a taser? He didn't deserve that. They cornered him and decided to teach him a lesson for running. Bastards!

    • Anonymous says:

      I tend to believe your story more than the others. Many officers in the States band together and have become organized criminals just like the gangs. They do wrong things and keep it a secret to themselves.  

    • Anonymous says:

      It don't add up… How can they shoot him face on in the chest and he was running from them???

  10. Anonymous says:

    Who needs the death penalty when you've got tasers.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Anything can be lethal, depending on how it is used.  This talented young man's life has been lost to a "non-lethal weapon" so go figure. Very, very sad.

  12. Hoping for better days says:

    Where in the chest was he shot? Perhaps close to his heart.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If officers were able to shoot him in the chest that means he was no longer running. And they managed to get in front of him to do so. So did he pose a threat other than probably giving the officers a work out which I’m sure pissed them off.

    Sad that he had to die for something as simple as graffiti. To some it’s and eye sore and to others its art. Either way very sad situation.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So what!  The police should be using tasers, if that is a means of getting rid of our public nuisiances.  Abide by the laws of the land and there would be no need to use force or tasers.

    • Anonymous says:

      So extra-judicial killings are coming to Cayman?  What's next, death squads?  Back room beatings for confessions?

      Someone is in serious need of a reality check.

  15. Concern citizen.. says:

    I assume you have differenct types of tasers. A taser should have a limited voltage to only paralyze the person and not kill the person. If the voltage is too high, I think the person who is weak especially in the heart, would have a hard time resuscitating from the shock. It could be life threatening. So you have those who can take the shock at a certain voltage and those who can not. The question that concerns me is just how much voltage-power are the officers allowed to use on a person in the Cayman Islands?  You are still using electricity, and any form of it can be fatal under the wrong circumstances.

  16. anonymous says:

    Sad, sad, sad.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So the moral of this terrible event is don't run from the Police. It's not worth it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think if he hadn't ran, the outcome would have been the same. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    Whilst my heart goes out to his family and no-one that young should die, that same heart also feels that graffiti is criminal..true artists do not force you to look at their work whether you want to or not, that is what graffitti hooligans do…therefore it ceases to be art..Criminals always run risks…maybe that is too black and white for some people, but where the hell do you draw the line???

    • Anonymous says:

      Let's hope your heart is never subjected to a taser, or it may "go out" in a totally different way!  Where you draw the line is not using a potentially lethal device on an unsuspecting public.  Especially for the heinous crime of graffiti tagging!

      • Anonymous says:

        So where do you draw the line Bobo? After someone has been killed or before? Not suggesting that was the case here..but who decides the line?? No crime, then there would be no excuse..and again not suggesting this was the right thing to do..its a very difficult area. Best not to be involved in crime of any description and never run from the police.

    • Anonymous says:

      The police obviously had him cornered and were able to shoot him front on.  For such a small kid, I find it absolutely ludicrous that tasering him was their only option, especially as he was unarmed (from various reports).