CBS: “DEATH IN PARADISE”

death in paradise one

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LINK TO CBS VIDEO AND ARTICLE

The CBS News report on the death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day finally aired last Wednesday morning.  CBS News filmed a portion of their ‘CBS This Morning’ show on South Beach, where the arrest of Eimers by multiple Key West police officers occurred.

But the television report focused less on the arrest itself and the possible use of excessive force leading to Eimers’ death than on what happened after the arrest. They showed excerpts from medical records that show that police apparently claimed Eimers ran away, resisted arrest, and did not have a pulse by the time the police got to him.  An account which was then flatly contradicted by a video shot by a tourist, which shows a radically different version of the facts.

CBS picked up on the fact that police very nearly allowed Eimers’ body to be cremated before the required autopsy and the fact that the FDLE investigation everyone has been endlessly waiting for is headed by FDLE Special Agent Supervisor Kathy Smith, who is the ex-wife of KWPD Captain Scott Smith, the supervisor of the officers involved.

Mayor Cates declared  the CBS report one-sided and unfair to the police.  Cates told the Key West Citizen on Thursday, “The police officers have rights too.  We’re going by the letter of the law.”

Arguably, however, it is the fact that both FDLE and KWPD seem to have lost all of their rulebooks on how the investigation should be conducted that brought the affair to national attention.

Under Florida Statute 406.12 any death in custody must be reported to the medical examiner.  However, the funeral home, the medical examiner, and KWPD have all admitted the body was very nearly cremated prior to autopsy.

Under FDLE’s Ethical Standards of Conduct Rule 7.1, an agent is prohibited from getting involved with an investigation concerning a relative [or former significant other].  Therefore Kathy Smith should not be involved in evaluating the responsibility of her ex-husband and father of her child, Captain Scott Smith, in the mishandling of Eimer’s body, which is a criminal matter under Florida Statute 406.12.

Then, there is the lying to medical personnel who came to rescue Eimers. Under KWPD Policy 02.08.06 officers have the duty to make sure the arrestee is provided adequate medical care.  Certainly claiming Eimers had no pulse when they got to him after he “collapsed” instead of describing the violent arrest and possible asphyxiation was not the best way to guarantee “adequate medical care”.

If Mayor Cates decided to actually open those books, as indicated in his “letter of the law” comment, he would have to accept that procedures are not being respected.

This is what “FDLE’s book” says:

“Pending the arrival of FDLE personnel, the ranking member of the host agency [KWPD] will insure that the scene remains secured, physical evidence is preserved and that all enforcement and citizen witnesses are identified and separated pending initial interview.” [Memorandum of Understanding between FDLE and KWPD]

Now it is clear that none of that happened.  According to an eyewitness, not only were many of the witnesses driven out of the area while Eimers was still lying motionless on the beach, but those remaining on scene [because they worked there] were intimidated by KWPD officers, at least one of whom had been physically involved in the incident that led to Eimers death.

Yes, the national media coverage is a black-eye to Key West, but the media attention and the lawsuit [which some believe to be premature] was precipitated by the fact that it had become absolutely obvious that the investigation was not occurring by the “letter of the law” and that crucial evidence was being lost or compromised. ”It is an uncontroverted fact,” says David Paul Horan, an attorney representing the Eimers family, “that people’s memories do not improve with time.”

With all due respect to the Chief and Mayor Cates, something had to be done before all of the witnesses disappeared or were influenced or had simply forgotten what the facts were.  Today, nearly six months later, key witnesses, interviewed by the Blue Paper, have still not been contacted by FDLE.

If truly, no one was at fault, the officers behaved appropriately, and the City doesn’t have a policy to rough-up homeless people and to tolerate violent behavior from officers, then why the lies and cover-up?

Stay tuned.

To access all Blue Paper coverage on the death of Charles Eimers click here.


Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!

2 comments on “CBS: “DEATH IN PARADISE”

  1. Thanks for yet another excellent article and a link to the CBS video. Hard to believe CBS did not credit the blue paper with breaking the story, without which CBS would have had no story to report. I think the blue paper should receive a Pulitizer for its coverage of the Eimers case.

    So far, the only rights I have seen protected by the authorities in the Eimers case are police officers’ rights.

    Perhaps the most troubling thing about the CBS report is it forced Mayor Cates and some city commissioners to go public, something the blue paper, the Citizen, private citizens, David Paul Horan and I were unable to get Mayor Cates and those commissioners to do. CBS’s report did something none of the rest of us could do: reveal to a national and international audience that all is not well in so-called paradi$e; tourist$ might not be $afe here.

    In yesterday’s Citizen article on the CBS report, Mayor Cates was quoted as saying the coverage was “one-sided” (against the city). If you factor in (or out) what CBS knew but did not include in its report, then the report was one-sided in favor of Key West.

    Some examples:

    CBS did not report KWPD and Key West public relations officer Alyson Crean, former Bureau Chief of the Keynoter, put out a public statement after the blue paper broke the Eimers case; then, after Alyson learned from the blue paper, the Citizen, and others, that what she had put out was not correct, she never retracted it.

    CBS did not report Eimers was profiled by KWPD as homeless, or a statement by one of the cops’ friends that the cop had bragged about roughing the bum (Eimers) up.

    CBS did not report the city’s aggressive homeless policy, which the police inflicted on Eimers.

    CBS did not report Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) have not yet interviewed a number of civilian witnesses to what happened at South Beach.

    CBS did not report FDLE investigator Kathy Smith is the mother of KWPD Captain Scott Smith’s child and there is an FDLE procedure prohibition against its investigators investigating someone with whom they are, or were, closely related.

    CBS did not report that, prior to CBS doing its investigation, Mayor Cates and the city commissioners had been silent about the Eimers case, and only broke their silence when CBS came to Key West.

    Bottom line: Eimers was profiled by KWPD as being homeless and the rest is history.

    Maybe the CBS report will seize the interest of the US Department of Justice and the F.B.I. I recall a young black male being profiled in Sanford, Florida, and President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, the F.B.I., the NAACP, etc., not to mention Florida Governor Rick Scott, went all out to get to the bottom of it.

    An Internet friend in Nashville, who has been following the Eimers case, wrote to me yesterday:

    ” If anyone takes the time to look at the bystander’s video, it is perfectly clear that the KWPD are lieing.”

    I replied:

    “Yep, when Eimers ran out of air with his face and nose stuck in the sand and several cops on top of him making sure his face and nose were stuck there, and one cop elbowed Eimers in the back of the head, or was it the neck?, his innate natural survival instinct kicked in and he started squirming, wiggling and kicking like crazy to get air. Perhaps fitting justice for the cops on top of him is to get the same treatment until they quit squirming, wiggling and kicking, so they can know the truth that will set them free, but into what?”

    During closing citizen comments at Tuesday’s Citizen Commission meeting, I said, approximately:

    “I learned earlier in the day from Tom Milone that CBS will cover the Charles Eimers case the next morning, nationally. This is the result of Key West the Newspaper, the blue paper’s reporting. I told you during an earlier commission meeting that Charles Eimers’ death was the direct consequence of the city’s aggressive homeless policy, which you set; a policy your police use to make homeless people as miserable as possible, hoping to get them to leave Key West and the area. You know from the blue paper’s reporting, including the bystander’s video, that there is a terrible problem in your police department. Yet, so far, I have not heard that you publicly expressed remorse. I have not heard that you publicly apologized to the Eimers family. That is outrageous. It is unconscionable. I think you should resign.”

    During their closing comments, Mayor Cates and the commissioners (Commissioner Weekley was out of town) said nothing about the Eimers case. Instead of talking to their citizens in the audience and watching on TV, the mayor and some of the commissioners talked to CBS and to the Key West Citizen.

  2. It seems the practice of abuse by cop, lies, and cover-ups are just SOP in the KWPD. And covering for the cover-up seems to be what our elected officials are busy doing. Seriously Mr. Mayor, the CBS report was one sided? Why? Just because they didn’t read your letter? Have you been paying attention? Have you been reading TheBluePaper.com?
    TheBluePaper.com broke this story months ago, and has been reporting about this incident continuously. Thankfully the national exposure of this story will (should) put some pressure on the city leaders to see that justice is done. By all appearances, it seems that the KWPD, at the least, is incompetent, but more likely is guilty in abetting in the cover-up. And then there’s the FDLE. Are they colluding with the KWPD? Or are they simply as incompetent as the police department?
    The sad reality is this type of behavior is unfortunately not isolated to the Key West community. Ignorant and/or crooked politicians are everywhere. So are dirty, abusive “law enforcement” agencies. The media MUST continue to report on these events and the public needs to pay attention.
    This may sound like I’m anti-cop but I’m not. As I’ve said before, I don’t envy a cop’s job. They deal with stupid and sometimes violent people way too much. But that being said, it does not give them the right to be abusive in general, nor to take the law into their own hands.
    Thank you TheBluePaper.com, and yes, thanks to CBS This Morning for the reporting of this story. I know TheBluePaper.com will continue following this but I hope that CBS, and other national news outlets, will follow it as well. I know the Chamber of Commerce, the TDC, and our elected officials are not happy about this and are probably pooping in their collective pants. But what they aren’t happy about is that this story is gaining traction and has now hit the national news, and that might hurt the precious tourist industry. What they should be concerned with is making sure the tourists, as well as the local citizens, are kept safe and informed by the PD and the local government.
    Keep up the good work!

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