MIAMI - A Miami mayoral candidate faced backlash Thursday for a paid political advertisement related to the death of Israel Hernandez-Llach.
The ad issued by current Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez reads: "My thoughts and prayers go out to Israel Hernandez and his family. This tragic event has affected the entire Miami community and has hit close to home for a lot of residents. The current City of Miami Mayor has said that 'we will fight violence with violence.' If the City of Miami and its surrounding cities are truly going to become influential cities of the future, we must reconsider this way of thinking."
A Miami Beach police officer tasered Hernandez-Llach after he ran from officers when they found him tagging a building at 71st Street and Collins Avenue, according to a police report. He later died. An autopsy is pending.
"It was basically an expression of solidarity with the family," he said.
"It's in very bad taste," countered Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
Regalado made the comment quoted in the advertisement three years ago while discussing Miami's high-crime areas.
"I did take an opportunity in the statement to criticize the mayor's policy to fight violence with violence because I do feel that that's an important community issue," said Suarez.
"Everything is about politics and nothing is about addressing policy," said Regalado. "Using a tragedy in a political campaign -- any campaign and any tragedy -- should not be done."
The Miami Fraternal Order of Police called the advertisement an attack on law enforcement officers.
"It is unfortunate that Commissioner Francis Suarez has chosen to utilize a sensitive situation in which someone has died on a paid political advertisement for Mayor to obtain votes," wrote Miami FOP President Sgt. Javier Ortiz. "There is not a single law enforcement officer that would've wanted Israel Hernandez to die for committing a criminal act... Instead of picking sides for campaign votes, law enforcement would have much preferred Commissioner Suarez to reserve his comments until the autopsy report of Mr. Hernandez is completed."
"I didn't criticize any member of the FOP, so I'm not sure why they decided to chime in," said Suarez.
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