An 18-year-old skater died yesterday after Miami Beach Police officers caught him tagging a building and then Tasered him.
Details about the death are still murky, but what is clear is that Israel Hernandez died before dawn Tuesday morning after cops caught him spray painting near 71st Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Police have yet to comment on the killing, but an officer near the scene confirmed that cops had fatally Tasered someone. Hernandez’s friends on the Miami Beach skate scene are devastated.
“I just cant believe it,” says best friend Rafael Lynch, on the verge of tears. “I still have his hat and his board. They still smell like him. It’s crazy.”
Update: MBPD has released a statement and incident report confirming that Hernandez died after being Tasered. Police chased Hernandez after catching him tagging a building and used the electronic weapon [sic —RG] when he refused to stop.
— Michael E. Miller, Teenager Israel Hernandez Dies After Miami Beach Cops Catch Him Tagging, Taser Him
Miami New Times (Aug 7, 2013).
As such, police in general, and police assault forces especially, are trained to enter every encounter with the goal oftaking control of the situation,by means of setting up confrontations in situations (no-knock raids, late-night forced-entry raids, etc.) where their chosen targets are most likely to be disoriented and easily terrorized, and by responding with maximal force in the volatile, disorienting confrontations that they create. For the sake of this maximal-force approach, they are equipped with an arsenal of weapons ranging from tasers and clubs to handguns and assault rifles, up to, and including, military helicopters and tanks. Worse, with all these weapons, they have institutionalized a culture of fact-free assertion and lies about highly dangerous weapons that they consider to be categoricallynon-lethal— and thus to be used as a first resort, in virtually any situation, as long as it might give the cops atactical advantageover people who they intend to bring under their control (whether or not these people have ever committed any crime at all). These weapons continue to be used with no hesitation and no restraint, and continue to be callednon-lethal force,no matter how many people are killed by them. There are, for example,tasers,portable electric torture devices which were originally sold as a less-deadly alternative to using a hand-gun in potentially life-threatening confrontations, but which cops now freely use for as part ofpain compliancetechniques in everyday confrontations with the public. This would be bad enough on its own, but part of the reason they are used so freely is because they take no real exertion for cops to use, and are consistently billed asnon-lethalby police and media, even though there are hundreds of documented cases of people dying after being subjected to repeated taser shocks.