Young artist’s family “deserve answers to begin to repair the community’s trust in the police force that is supposed to protect them”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2013
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
MIAMI BEACH - On Tuesday morning, August 6th, Israel Hernandez-Llach, a 17-year-old artist from Miami, died after being Tasered by Miami Beach Police.
The following statement on the incident may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida:
“A teenager with a promising future is dead after being shot with a police Taser by Miami-Beach Police. His apparent crime: graffiti.
“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.
“Law enforcement’s tactics should reflect the level of danger in a situation. The medical safety of allegedly-“less-than-lethal” Tasers is still being questioned, and without clear training and limitations, officers may use Tasers not because it is appropriate in a specific situation, but because it is the weapon available to them. It’s unclear whether the use of a Taser was a justified response to a teen’s attempt to flee after being caught doing graffiti on an abandoned building, especially given that multiple officers were present and other techniques may have been sufficient in the situation. What is clear is that a family is grieving for a young artist because of actions taken by the Miami Beach Police Department.
“There are many questions that need to be answered. The police chief has stated that the use of a Taser was needed to ‘avoid a physical incident.’ Given the harmful medical and potentially deadly consequences of Taser use, that is not a sufficient justification for using a Taser. If Miami Beach Police policy allows the use of Tasers in situations like this, reforming that policy is a good place to start.
“The people of Miami Beach and the family of Israel Hernandez-Llach deserve answers to begin to repair the community’s trust in the police force that is supposed to protect them. There must be a timely, independent and thorough investigation into what happened Tuesday morning, whether officers followed policies authorizing the use of Tasers, and whether that policy needs to be reviewed.
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