An 18-year-old man who was seen putting graffiti on private property in Miami Beach died after he ran from police and an officer used a Taser on him, police said.
Miami Beach Police officers saw Israel Hernandez vandalizing private property with graffiti at 71st Street and Collins Avenue at 5:14 a.m. on Tuesday, Police Chief Raymond Martinez said in a statement Wednesday.
Thiago Souza said that he and another friend were keeping a lookout as their friend Hernandez used gold spray paint to graffiti an old storefront.
“I told him. I was like, 'Yo, stop,’” Souza said.
Police pulled up. That's when Hernandez tried using his skateboard to get away, but ran instead, Souza said.
During the ensuing chase Hernandez ran into and out of a building, and went over a fence before he crashed down hard on the hood of a car, an officer wrote in an offense incident report. Hernandez landed on his feet before losing his balance and falling on his chest, and then ran northbound on Harding Avenue, the report said.
Officers came face to face with Hernandez at 71st Street and Harding Avenue, where he ignored their commands to stop, Martinez said. An officer used a Taser on Hernandez and he was taken into custody, but he then showed signs of medical duress, Martinez said.
Miami Beach Fire Rescue took Hernandez to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Martinez said.
“The City of Miami Beach would like to extend their condolences to the family of Israel Hernandez,” the statement said.
Souza said police went too far.
"You don't have to use excessive force, it's not like he killed no one," he said.
At the Hernandez family's Miami Beach home Wednesday, his loved ones grieved, as the teen's drawings and paintings hung on the walls.
"He was a boy that could dream more than anybody could think," said his older sister, Offir Hernandez.
As a Miami Beach Senior High School student, she said her brother earned several honors, including Congressional recognition for his artistic achievements.
The family's attorney, Todd McPharlin, said his team is beginning an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Hernandez's death.
"I haven't seen something turn into a young man's death being caused by, or at least starting from something so benign," McPharlin said.
The cause of death has not been determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office, and autopsy and toxicology results are also pending, Martinez said.
Police continue to investigate.
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