Miami Beach Police defend officer linked to Taser death

El Nuevo Herald
November 6, 2014
(Translation via Google Translate)

MIAMI  - The union of the Miami Beach Police Thursday defended one of its agents in the case of Colombian youth killed in 2013 by firing a Taser and said the cause of death is still a "mystery".

In a letter to the Committee against Torture of the United Nations in the absence of a week of the audience that will hear the case, Sergeant Alejandro Bello, president of the union, said the fact is "still under investigation" and that the Taser are considered weapons "non-lethal".

However Meena Jagannath, the Hernandez family attorney, said Thursday that "the autopsy clearly states that the cause of death was a shock transmitted by an electronic device."

Israel Hernandez Lach died in August 2013 after being shocked with a Taser stun gun by police Jorge Mercado when he was struck by several painting graffiti in an unoccupied home in Miami Beach, after a career trying to flee from police officers. 

Jagannath questioned "attempts to describe this case as an unresolved medical anomaly" by Bello.

Israel Hernandez, father of the deceased student, 18, also said the letter falls "within a delaying tactic of the police and the Office of Miami-Dade to take 14 months without resolving the case."

"It's part of the disinformation Police first said that my son had to have cocaine in his blood which is a lie because toxicology tests proved it," Hernandez said. 

The family filed the case in October at the UN after not "requests" by local, state and federal authorities.

Jagannath, who will attend the hearing in Geneva scheduled for November 13, said the letter Bello "is an attempt to divert attention from the need to assess" the Taser.

 An independent audit of this year's Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) recommended to the Miami Beach Police Taser change the description of "non-lethal" to "less lethal" and no longer using Taser against a suspect.

He said that an exhibition of a barrage of electroshock "for more than 15 seconds (either an application or the sum of several) may increase the risk of death or serious injury."