FDLE to review taser death

Israel Hernandez-Llach died shortly after being tasered by Miami Beach police officer

By Ben Candea , Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will review the Miami Beach Police Department's investigation into the death of Israel Hernandez-Llach, the 18-year-old who died shortly after he was tasered by a police officer.

"I have complete confidence in the integrity and capacity of the Miami Beach Police Department to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. But the role of the FDLE will provide further assurance to the public of the thoroughness and transparency of the investigation," said Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales. "All of us at the City of Miami Beach continue to be saddened by this unfortunate incident and our condolences go out to the Hernandez family."

Earlier this week, Jose Javier Rodriguez, an attorney representing the Hernandez family, said they wanted an independent review of the case.

"We don't want an investigation of the police department conducted by the police department," he said. "We don't know exactly what happened. We don't know if protocols were followed. There's a lot of unanswered questions."

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and Medical Examiner's Office are also reviewing the case.

Officers found Hernandez-Llach spraying graffiti on a building at 71st Street and Collins Avenue early Tuesday morning, police said. He then ran from the officers.

Officers told Hernandez-Llach to stop running and when he did not comply, Officer Jorge Mercado tasered him, according to a police report. Soon after, he began showing signs of medical distress.

Hernandez-Llach was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital a short time later.

"I can tell you the officer is very distraught. [He] did not mean to bring death to this young man," said Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez. "At that point, the officers are trying to apprehend the subject even though it is a minor crime. That's our job -- to apprehend criminals regardless of the value. That's what they were doing."

An autopsy completed Wednesday was inconclusive. His family said he didn't have any health conditions that could be blamed for his sudden death. Toxicology results are pending.

"I've been tased. This is the first time we've had somebody who has passed away as a result of -- or, I shouldn't say as a result -- after the use of a taser," said Martinez.

Martinez said Hernandez-Llach continued toward the officer when they found each other face to face.

"At that point, the officer has to make a decision: do I use my hands?" said Martinez. "[It's] a judgment decision."

Hernandez-Llach's friend Thiago Souza told Local 10's Christina Vazquez by the phone that he saw officers congratulating each other and high-fiving while Hernandez-Llach laid motionless on the floor. Souza also said he and Hernandez-Llach smoked marijuana about an hour before the incident began.

Mercado, a 13-year veteran, was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure when there is a death. Department spokesman Bobby Hernandez said Mercado may remain on administrative leave longer than the customary three days.

Thomas Lincoln, a 20-year veteran, was also involved in the incident.

Disciplinary records: Jorge Mercado | Thomas Lincoln |

A vigil for Hernandez-Llach was held Thursday.

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