Local human rights activists in Miami aim to submit the case of 18 year old Colombian who died after being tasered by police, to the U.N committee against torture.
Human rights organisations The Dream Defenders and the Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services aim to present the case along with another to the U.N committee’s 53rd meeting next month in Switzerland, alleging that Israel ´Reefa´Hernandez’s death was the result of unchecked police brutality.
“The U.S. is quick to criticize countries like the Hernandez’s native Colombia for their human rights abuses, yet allows for egregious police crimes to go wholly unpunished,” said Meena Jagannath of the Community Justice Project.
Representatives from the human rights groups will travel to Geneva for the U.N meeting and aims to demand immediate suspension and investigation of accused officer Jorge Mercado and the instigation of an federal investigation into both the Miami Beach Police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Hernandez, an aspiring artist originally from Colombia, died August 6, 2013, after police discovered him and some friends making graffiti tags on an abandoned McDonald’s in Miami Beach. Police pursued Hernandez and eventually shot him in the chest with a Taser. Hernandez suffered seizures at the scene and later died on the way to hospital.
His parents made an emotional plea to President Juan Manuel Santos to demand action from the U.S government against the officers involved, who allegedly laughed and high-fived each other after shooting the youngster in the chest with the taser.
“We came to this country to escape the violence and impunity in our country (Colombia), but we became victims,” said Israel Hernandez Senior, father of the deceased.
It is reported that the younger sister of the slain teenager will be present in the group who travel to Geneva to put their case to the U.N.
It is claimed that the officers used unnecessary force which resulted in the young man´s death. The officer in question, Jorge Mercado has a questionable record which includes more accusations of unnecessary force during arrests, a failed drug test and accusations of lying about working an important case, when he was in fact on holiday.
“Despite all the indisputable evidence and social outrage, the police officer in Miami Beach Jorge Mercado has not been prosecuted for the death of my son and still patrolling the streets,” said Israel Hernandez Senior.
According to the Huffington Post, Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez has defended the officers’ judgement, saying “even though it was only graffiti, it’s still a crime.”
- Caso de colombiano muerto por pistola eléctrica en Miami irá a la ONU (El Universal)
- Report on Israel “Reefa” Hernandez’s Death Filed With UN Committee Against Torture (Miami New times)
- Jorge Mercado, Miami Beach Police Officer Who Tasered Israel Hernandez, Previously Accused In Tasering Of Iraq Vet (Huffington Post)