Family Wants Answers After Teen Dies In Police Custody
MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – Overwhelmed with grief, family and friends gathered to remember Israel Hernandez, Thursday night.
“The artist, our friend, my brother the son of God, the poet, the sculptor, the photographer, the amazing friend, the philosopher,” said Hernandez’ sister.
The promising young artist died Tuesday morning after Miami Beach Police used a Taser on him.
Police said the teen was tagging a vacant storefront and ran when officers approached.
After a short chase, police said Hernandez, who was face-to-face with officers, ignored commands to stop.
That’s when Officer Jorge Mercado reportedly deployed his Taser.
By the time he got to the hospital, Israel Hernandez was dead.
CBS4 news partners at El Nuevo Herald exclusively obtained documents from Officer Jorge Mercado’s internal affairs file.
They show numerous allegations dating back to 2007 including battery, excessive use of force, theft, drug testing procedures, court overtime attendance and accountability, and professional courtesy conduct and respect.
Of all the cases, he faced disciplinary action for two.
Documents show Mercado was suspended for 160 hours in connection with the drug testing allegations.
He also received a verbal conference regarding the court related case.
The other allegations were unsubstantiated or withdrawn.
What happened in this case involving Israel Hernandez is still unclear.
Police said the officer who wrote the incident report didn’t see Mercado deploy his Taser.
A lot of questions remain unanswered as the family grieves for a life lost and all the promise that came with Hernandez.
“In the 20 years I’ve been teaching art, Israel was one of the most uniquely talented artists I’ve ever encountered,” said Frank O’Hare, Hernandez’s art teacher. “The art community, in general, in Miami has lost a real talent he’ll be sorely missed,” he added.
“He would have been great I know in my heart he was going to be an amazing artist,” said friend Dakota Heller.