Miami-Dade County

Dozens gather to honor graffiti artist “Reefa”; call for an end to police brutality

Dozens of people gathered Saturday outside the Miami Beach McDonald’s where teenage graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach died Tuesday morning after police caught him painting the abandoned building and shocked him with a Taser.

Passing around sticks of colored chalk, the teen’s friends and supporters marked the shuttered building at the intersection of 71st Street and Collins Avenue with their own words – “No More Police Brutality” and “RIP Reefa,” the teen’s tag name – and called for police to be held accountable for their actions.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement agreed Friday to review the Miami Beach Police Department’s investigation of the case, a move welcomed by Hernandez-Llach’s family and their attorneys.

“Since Israel's death, the family has been calling for an independent investigation into Israel's death and the actions of the Miami Beach Police Department,” lawyer Todd McPharlin said to the crowd Saturday afternoon.

“Yesterday we learned the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be getting involved into that investigation. We see that as a first step in getting the answers that the Hernandez family needs and deserves, and this community needs and deserves,” he said.

The police officer who fired his Taser at Hernandez-Llach – Jorge Mercado, a 13-year veteran of the Miami Beach Police Department – was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office also are reviewing the case.