In the Air
Art News & Gossip

In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

VIDEO: Eighteen-Year-Old Artist Dies After Miami Beach Police Tasering

Pin It


The artist Israel Hernandez-Llach, 18, died early Tuesday morning after being Tasered by Miami Beach Police officers who spotted him tagging a vacant McDonald’s restaurant near the intersection of 71st Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, the Miami Herald reports. Hernandez-Llach, a painter and sculptor who was also known by his tag, “Reefa,” had finished writing the first letter of his tag, according to a photo obtained by the Miami New Times, when he was spotted by officers who chased him for several blocks and through a building before Tasering him. He was then taken to Miami’s Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 6:15am, according to the Miami Beach Police report.

“The officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident,” Ray Martinez, Miami Beach’s chief of police, told the Herald. Hernandez-Llach was reportedly shot once in the chest with a Taser, which caused him to collapse.

“He wanted to change the world somehow through art,” his sister Offir Hernandez told the Herald. “We want answers. We only want to know what happened.”

“I just cant believe it,” said Rafael Lynch, whom the New Times described as Hernandez-Llach’s best friend. “I still have his hat and his board. They still smell like him. It’s crazy.”

“He was cutting edge,” Herb Kelly, one of Hernandez-Llach’s art instructors at Miami Beach High, told the Herald. “He had such awesome potential. To lose his life the way he did is tragic.”

Hernandez-Llach’s practice included painting, sculpture, street art, and photography. He had recently begun designing a line of skateboard decks.

Watch a video report on the death of Israel Hernandez-Llach:

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo via the Miami Herald.)

Tags: , ,

Pin It


  1. Florida police again? Is there something wrong in the state of …?

  2. The kid had to die for writing something on an abandoned building because the cops were probably too fat to chase him? Obscene. And why the hell did they even bother? Did they run out of drug pushers to chase?

  3. This is sooooooooooo wrong. Tagging is not a crime that necessitates taser’s. Their should be a law that only allows cops to use taser’s if they are in danger. Fuck Florida and fuck Florida police! The cop who shot the Taser should have to put one of his family members through college or another Art student that went to that school. Punishment needs to be more creative and the weight it deserves for killing someone.

  4. Wait. He was running away and got shot in the chest.?

  5. They were “forced to use the taser to avoid a physical incident” says their chief. I wonder how electrocuting someone escapes his definition of a physical incident. Given how tragically this ended attemting that line of reasoning to justify their action is just insulting and demonstrates how arrogant law enforcement has become. Tasers have killed people before – which the police know – so the cops should be held accountable for chosing to use lethal force against someone tagging a building. And give me a fucking break two cops and Israel looks like he weighed 90 pounds soaking wet.

  6. How can an innocent life be taken, without reprimand? Law enforcement officials cannot continue to be outside of the jurisdiction of human rights violations and the scope of committing horrifying acts of manslaughter.

    We celebrate artists that began with graffiti as a medium for expression: Basquiat, Keith Haring, Banksy.. the list is endless. Street Art is a universal art form that is appreciated by and speaks to the masses, in a way that much of what is exhibited in museums cannot.

    How can Israel Hernandez be murdered while a respected gallery in NYC simultaneously puts on a show entirely by street artists, celebrating 10 years of the Wooster Collective,a website “showcasing and celebrating ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world”? How can an act of self expression, or to the law, vandalism, warrant the use of a weapon for submission that leads to undeserved death by electrocution? Against a young, talented, and unarmed individual? If an officer needs a taser to “avoid a physical incident” with an unarmed 18 year old, their abilities as an officer are non-existent. Sounds more like the taser was misused to exert an aggressive abuse of power, and a crime that can’t be overlooked. Devastating news like this sends a clear message of mistrust and hypocrisy towards those who misuse their power to police the legal system while escaping the justice system through a loophole enshrined by a badge.

  7. I am so shocked and sickened by this act of violence by the police, it is a sad, sad day when the western wold feels the need to kill an artist for self expression , may God comfort the family now ,

  8. This senseless death is infuriating, and as a resident of Miami Beach, I am deeply disturbed at the amount of unnecessary police violence in this city. Prayers to Israel’s family.

  9. Beyond belief. Why would an officer fire a taser at an unarmed fleeing graffiti writer? As terrible as this officer may feel,-no doubt he did not mean to kill the boy, Hernandez-Llach is dead. So what he did amounts to criminally negligent homicide and he needs to face the music for using such blatant disregard for the welfare of a citizen it was his duty to protect.

Add a Comment