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The skateshop where Hernández-Llach worked posted this photo of him after his death.

Israel Hernández-Llach was tagging a shuttered McDonald’s in Miami Beach when he was approached by police and fled. It’s unclear exactly how the situation unfolded from there, but Hernández-Llach was soon dead, the result of a police tasering. The officers claimed that they shocked their victim, the 541st person to be killed by a Taser since the weapons were introduced in 2001, to “avoid a physical incident.”

Widespread coverage of the teen’s death cites Miami Beach police chief Ray Martinez’s public statement on the matter, which included condolences to the Hernández-Llach family. It’s a tawdry bookend to the quiet, thoughtful artist and photographer’s life, one cut short by a violent and hysterical culture of urban policing. It’s a crime catalyzed by an unhinged reaction to graffiti and enabled by a lethal weapon whose use by law enforcement has become nightmarishly casual.

According to the Miami Herald, his family has retained an attorney and plans to seeks legal recourse for their son’s wrongful death. For it’s own part, the American Civil Liberties Union has issued a statement, denouncing the senseless death of “A teenager with a promising future … His apparent crime: graffiti.”

The ACLU document continues: “This is the latest in a long, tragic series of incidents in which the Miami Beach Police Department appears to have used excessive, disproportionate or lethal force. Unfortunately, the Miami Beach Police also have a troubling track record of a lack of transparency after such incidents.”

A troubling track record, to be sure — this is just the flavor of the week: An 18-year old has half a million volts of electricity pumped into his flesh for putting unauthorized pigment on a wall. And those responsible, the public employees whose salaries his now-lifeless body’s labor once contributed to, then allegedly stood around high-fiving each other like misbegotten medalists in some grotesque bloodsport. Happy Friday.

Editor’s note: This article originally stated, incorrectly, that Hernández-Llach was 17. He was 18. It has been corrected.

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Mostafa Heddaya

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.

8 replies on “Miami Police Kill 18-Year-Old Street Artist”

  1. Sorry but I hate graffiti. It is vandalism, and I’d love to see every graffiti artist tasered in the ass .

      1. Haha wow, I’m guessing you’re one of those individuals that view graffiti art as a major contributor to crime. You are a product of the broken window theory, and do I ever hate individuals that CHOSE to be close-minded. Enjoy your ignorant life you sheeple.

    1. Haha wow, I’m guessing you’re one of those individuals that view graffiti art as a major contributor to crime. You are a product of the broken window theory, and do I ever hate individuals that CHOSE to be close-minded. Enjoy your ignorant life you sheeple.

  2. I am so glad this tragic story is getting press in places other than Miami! It saddens me so much that this teenager, whose peers have described him as one of the most kind-hearted and genuine people they have met, had to die a completely preventable death. The fact that tagging an abandoned, run down building is reason enough for law enforcement to taser, much less kill, a teenager is ridiculous.

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