UPDATED Thurs. Aug. 15 at 6:20pm: Miami New Times reports "Cop Who Tasered Israel Hernandez Was Once Accused of Tasering, Beating Iraq War Veteran."
"New Times has obtained the IA files for Jorge Mercado, the Miami Beach cop who fatally Tasered teenage tagger Israel Hernandez last week, and they ain't pretty. The files show that Mercado arrested an old woman last year as she tried to navigate Memorial Day weekend traffic. In 2007, he punched a guy during a concert. Worst of all, he and fellow cops were accused of Tasering and beating an Iraq War veteran in 2008."
Read more by clicking here.
In a city where the words "crud," "scumbag" and "sleazy" are almost always associated with political campaigns, Francis Suarez, candidate for City of Miami Mayor, has plumbed new depths of the city's political cesspool.
This week, Suarez released a campaign flyer that exploits the death of Israel Hernandez, an 18 year-old graffiti "artist," who died last week in Miami Beach.
The images of Hernandez that Suarez appropriated for the ad were taken by photographer Heather Bozzone.
Bozzone told me today that she did not give Suarez permission to use the images. In a brief phone interview, Bozzone said, "I'm not okay with this. I never gave him permission to use my images."
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Today, the Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei reports,
Thursday morning, Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the city’s police union, issued a statement to “shame” Suarez for attacking law enforcement officers.
“It is unfortunate that Commissioner Francis Suarez has chosen to utilize a sensitive situation in which someone has died on a paid political advertisement for Mayor to obtain votes,” wrote Ortiz, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “There is not a single law enforcement officer that would’ve wanted Israel Hernandez to die for committing a criminal act.”
Ortiz then goes on to blame Hernandez for his own death.
“No one can take responsibility for Israel’s death except himself,” Ortiz wrote. “There is currently no medical evidence that Tasers pose a significant risk for induced cardiac dysrhythmia in humans when deployed reasonably.”
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In other developments, today the Miami Beach Police Department released a chart that documents how many times its officers have used Tasers in effecting arrests since 2007. Beach officers have been equipped with Tasers since 2003 according to the department's spokesman, Sgt. Robert Hernandez.
Prior to last week's incident, Hernandez says no one has ever died after being Tasered by his department's officers.
And yesterday, owners of the building that Hernandez was allegedly trying to tag, deployed workers to clean-up graffiti left over the weekend by Hernandez 's friends and supporters.
Also yesterday, Miami Beach police released recordings that document officers' radio exchanges with a dispatcher in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 as they attempted to apprehend Hernandez. Click here to hear the recordings.