Naja and Arnaud Girard are doing more than a good job in reporting the still-developing story about the rough arrest on South Beach on Thanksgiving Day that lead to the death of 61-year-old Charles Eimers. But if you have been a reader of my writing in Key West The Newspaper (the Blue Paper) over the years, you may not be surprised that I have my own comments (and suspicions). While a number of questions remain to be answered by investigation– like did the cops literally smother the man to death by forcefully holding his face into the sand until he died?– we already know one unquestioned fact about the case: The cops knowingly lied when they initially tried to explain to the public why the arrest turned rough.
While the fact that the cops initially lied will probably not have any affect on the findings of the official investigation concerning how Eimers died, it is a really big deal as far as law enforcement in Key West is concerned. Cops are not supposed to lie. In fact, lying on official police documents (like arrest affidavits) IS A CRIME! But as I have documented over the past two decades, they do it all the time and they have been doing it for years. If you have been following the Eimers story, you probably already know about the lie I’m talking about. But if not, let me document it:
Initial arrest affidavits– sworn under-oath statements– reported that the Eimers “exited that car and began fighting.” The official statement that police Communications Director Alyson Crean released to the press also reported that Eimers had resisted arrest when he was approached by officers. So what’s the big deal? Suspects resist arrest all the time. The big deal is that Eimers NEVER RESISTED ARREST as cops approached him on the beach. Not for a single second. But the cops roughed him up anyway!
How do we (me and you) know that? Shortly after the incident on South Beach, a video surfaced that showed what actually happened when police officers approached Eimers. That video was published in the Blue Paper last December 13. The video clearly shows that Eimers never became aggressive or started fighting. He got out of his car and walked onto the beach and followed the officers’ instructions to get down on the sand belly-down. That is when the officers started piling on him and twisting his arms behind his back. Click here to view video. No judgment calls required here. THE MAN NEVER RESISTED ARREST! The cops just lied about it– and got caught. You almost have to feel sorry for them. Almost. They felt comfortable doing what they routinely do– lie– because they didn’t know about the video. Oops! The purpose of putting out the false information was to try to explain why they had to get rough with Eimers. They couldn’t say that they roughed him up for no reason! The purpose of that initial lie was to hide something that happened during that incident of apparent brutality on the beach. Hopefully, the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Investigation will tell us all what that “something” was.
The lie on the sworn police reports in this case was blatant. It was not a typo or a “scrivener’s error.” It was a flat out in-your-face lie! But the false information put out by the KWPD’s Alyson Crean is another matter. Crean is a pro. She only sends out information that she has collected from official sources and that has been approved by her management. When she released the initial information that Eimers had resisted arrest when he was approached by officers, I have no doubt that she thought that was the truth because that info was from the official police reports. But once she viewed the video, she had to have some conflicts. She had sent out a false report– which has the potential to affect her professional credibility. And if the official spokeswoman for the police department loses credibility, what else does she have? I feel sure that she immediately went to her management and recommended that she send out a corrected statement. The fact that there has been no corrected statement is telling. While Crean’s professional standards would never allow her to feel comfortable knowingly feeding falsehoods to the press, her management has no such standards. The fact that there has been no corrected statement suggests that Crean’s management will not allow her to do that.
I asked her about that this week and she answered the question by telling me that, when the FDLE investigation is concluded, the KWPD will conduct its own internal investigation. In the context of my question and her answer, I am going to assume that this investigation will be asking why police officers initially broke the law by falsely reporting that Eimers had resisted arrest when officers approached him at the beach– when video evidence clearly shows that he did not. We’ll see.
In the meantime, Chief Lee is still pretending to be in the dark. In a recent public statement, he said, “Based on what I know so far, I don’t think the officers acted inappropriately.”
DISCLAIMER: Before you send that email beating me up for painting all cops with the same brush, longtime readers know that I have written many times that the MAJORITY of Key West cops are good cops who try to do the right thing.
To access all Blue Paper coverage of the death of Charles Eimers click here.