Teen Graffiti Artist Dies After Police Tasing

Death of Miami Beach 17-year-old under investigation
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2013 9:14 AM CDT
Graffiti Artist, 17, Dies After Police Tasing
A frame grab off YouTube of Israel Hernandez-Llach.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – A Miami Beach teenager is dead after getting tased by police who spotted him tagging a vacant McDonald's with graffiti. The case is getting more attention than usual because 17-year-old Israel Hernandez-Llach had the reputation of a budding artist. He was "on the threshold of acclaim in Miami Beach art circles," reports the Miami Herald, which labels the Colombian native a sculptor, painter, writer, and photographer.

Israel's death, however, came via his colorful graffiti, which he spray-painted under the name Reefa. Police say he ran when spotted by officers, then ran toward the officers when confronted. He was tased once in the chest and immediately went into distress. “The officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident," says the police chief. Autopsy results are pending, and the death is under investigation by the city and state. “He wanted to change the world somehow through art,” says his sister. “We want answers.” (Read more Miami stories.)

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