MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Friends of Israel Hernandez are demanding justice after the death of an 18-year-old graffiti artist in police custody last year was ruled an accident.
Jorge Estomba, Ethan Romano and other friends of Hernadez held a news conference Monday morning calling for the arrest of the Miami Beach police officer who fired his Taser.
"I believe that this wasn't something that was accidental," Estomba said of the recent medical examiner's report.
Police said Hernandez, known as "Reefa" by friends, ran from an officer who caught him spraying graffiti along Collins Avenue last August.
When officers caught up with Hernandez, one of them deployed a Taser to stop him. Hernandez collapsed and was rushed to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
His friends are now asking the state attorney's office to file charges against the officer who used the Taser.
"They pushed him and they tasered him," Romano said. "That's not an accident."
Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade County state attorney's office, said in a statement that his office is still reviewing the circumstances of Hernandez's death.
"While the recent medical examiner's conclusion of 'accidental death due to electrical discharge' is an extremely important piece of information, our decision will be based upon the totality of the facts, including all of the reports from the city of Miami Beach Police Department," Griffith said. "Once we have received everything from the police department, the state attorney's office will move toward finalizing our report based on the evidence, the testimony of witnesses and the law."
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