A vigil in honor of a Miami Beach teen who died in police custody took an aggressive turn Thursday evening on Collins Avenue and 71st Street.
Crowds in support of Israel Hernandez gathered at the spot where he was spotted by officers spray painting graffiti on an abandoned storefront early Tuesday morning. Witnesses said tensions between demonstrators and police escalated, and officers moved in to surrounded the crowds.
The demonstration came just hours after Hernandez’s father, sister and attorney called for outside agencies to look into the teen’s death at a press conference at their Bay Harbor Islands home.
“We don’t know exactly what happened in this case, and we want to make sure we know with absolute certainty what did happen, and for that reason, we would like it to be an outside law enforcement agency,” said Jose Javier Rodriguez, the family’s attorney.
Miami Beach Police announced it will investigate the events surrounding Hernandez’s death, but the family is insisting that the investigation involve outside oversight.
At issue: the circumstances surrounding the teen’s death. In a statement, Police Chief Raymond Martinez said a Taser device was used to subdue the 18-year-old after he ran away from officers who caught him vandalizing the Collins Avenue storefront.
While in custody, police said Hernandez went into medical duress. He was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Hernandez’s father told the press his family moved to the U.S. for a better life, and that his son, a Miami Beach Senior High student, was an accomplished artist. He said his hope now is that any wrongdoing surrounding his son’s death is punished.
Though police have expressed their condolences, Hernandez’s sister says her brother should never have lost his life.
“We’ll appreciate it very much if you can support [us], because art is nothing to be killed for,” Offir Hernandez said. The family is asking for help with his funeral costs at https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/djv2
ORR, CRAIG PLAN TO ADD TASERS TO DPD ARMAMENT
Detroit Free Press writer Matt Helms reported recently, “In what emergency manager Kevyn Orr called just one significant example of improvements headed for the city’s basic public services, the Detroit Police Department will soon get 50 new squad cars, replacement bulletproof vests and two new devices Motor City cops have never had: electric stun guns and on-body video cameras.”
He continues, “The Taser issue illustrates one of the complications Orr’s team faces in improving police service. The city has been under federal oversight for a decade, and the U.S. Justice Department must approve any changes in the Police Department’s policies on use of force. Tasers, which use electricity to temporarily disable suspects, must win federal approval, something top aides to Orr say they believe will be granted because the devices help reduce shootings by officers.”
VOD: Whether the DPD will even be subject to monitoring by the USDOJ is a big question, since the city pays millions a month for the federal process and is not supposed to be paying any vendors right now.