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Medical Examiner Rules Teen Shot by Miami Beach Police Taser Died Accidental Cardiac Arrest
It was announced on Thursday that a young artist shot with a Taser stun gun by the Miami Beach Police Department died of heart failure, according to The Miami Beach Herald.
The report from the medical examiner concluded that the death of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez-Llach, 18, was accidental even though it was sudden cardiac death.
Prosecutors were told of the findings by the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office on Thursday, according to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Israel Hernandez, the teen’s father, said, “We’ve been saying it for seven months. It’s nothing new. My son didn’t deserve the death penalty.”
Dr. Mark Shuman issued the autopsy report. Shuman is the associate medical examiner. The report was not finalized and was not handed over to the police or the state attorney’s office. It is the job of prosecutors in Miami-Dade to determine if police broke any laws.
“We’re all parents, and our hearts go out to his family and all of his friends,” Fernandez Rundle said. “We understand everyone is waiting for our final conclusion, and we will do it as quickly as humanly possible, without compromising, of course.”
All of this began back on August 6 when a Miami Beach police officer came across Hernandez-Llach spray-painting an out-of-business McDonald’s on North Beach. Following a chase on foot, Officer Jorge Mercado shot the teen with a Taser. The teen later died at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Mercado claims that the teen rushed towards him and the Miami Beach Police Department insists that Mercado followed department policy when dealing with a suspect who is resisting arrest.
The lawyer for the teen’s family, Todd McPharlin, said, “Our reaction is that these officers used what turned out to be deadly force for what everybody understands was a minor property offense.”
The report from the medical examiner is very interesting because a Taser has never been named as an official cause of death in Florida when used by a police officer.
In the report, the Taser brand is not named as the cause of death. Instead, the medical examiner wrote the death as being caused by a “conducted electronic device discharge.”
Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International, said the following on Thursday:
“TASER International is always concerned when a death tragically occurs in custody and mourns the loss of a life. We do not comment, however, on an unfortunate death without having been provided any factual documentation by the medical examiner or the opportunity to review the autopsy report.”
Since February 5, three people shot with Tasers in Miami-Dade have died, which is going to raise criticism of the department.Medical Examiner Rules Teen Shot by Miami Beach Police Taser Died Accidental Cardiac Arrest by Jim Vassallo