The Miami Beach Police officer who fatally shot a young graffiti artist with a Taser was justified in his use of force and won't face criminal charges, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said Thursday.
Israel "Reefa" Hernandez was shot with the Taser by Officer Jorge Mercado after he was spotted spray painting a storefront in August 2013. Hernandez, 18, died an hour later at the hospital.
"After the medical examiner determined that Israel Hernandez-Llach's death was accidental, it left little legal room to pursue any possible criminal charges," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "Our extensive investigation determined that the sad tragedy of this situation is that no one involved intended or anticipated any serious injury occurring to this young man.
"In my meeting with the family, I expressed my heartfelt sorrow for the unimaginable loss of their son."
The Miami-Dade medical examiner determined Hernandez died of heart failure from energy device discharge, authorities said. Hernandez's probable manner of death was listed as an accident, and the medical examiner also noted that marijuana was found in Hernandez's system.
Miami Beach Police insisted Mercado was acting accordingly with department policy. However, Hernandez's family filed an intent to sue the department for excessive force.
"It is now time to begin our evaluation of this tragic incident, which we will do through an Internal Affairs investigation," Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said in a statement Thursday. "We will evaluate the actions of our officers that day and whether our tactics, training and equipment need to change. When our investigation is complete, we will share our findings with the public."
Hernandez's family and their attorney held a news conference Thursday to demand that someone be held accountable.
"We intend to prove that there's plenty of evidence that this officer acted negligently, that he had no business to fire a Taser in the fashion that he did that day," attorney Todd Calzon said. "And in addition to that, this product is dangerous."