CBS Morning Show Probes Key West In-Custody Death

Issue 60 CBS photo

Treavor Eimers with CBS Correspondent Elaine Quijano and camera crew on South Beach [photo by Arnaud Girard]

The death of Charles Eimers while in the hands of Key West police officers is now getting national attention.   CBS investigators were in town this week researching the circumstances surrounding the death of Eimers, the apparent cover-up involving near cremation of the body before autopsy, destruction of evidence, lying to emergency medical personnel, and finally the shocking conflict of interest that is tainting FDLE’s investigation of the case:  FDLE’s top investigator in the Eimers case, Kathy Smith, is the ex-wife of KWPD Captain Scott Smith.

CBS flew in on Wednesday with Treavor Eimers, the victim’s son, and a full camera crew.  We sat with CBS Investigative Producer, the very charming, Megan Towey, for a two-hour lunch, and in the words of Mel Brooks, it must be ‘good to be the King!’  Apparently when these guys have an issue with obtaining records from FDLE they have the office of Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General, on speed dial and a lot of weight to throw around.  Not quite the same as being a Blue Paper reporter.

When we asked what made this story one of national interest, Key West was immediately named a factor, “People come to Key West for the laid back attitude, but in the case of Charles Eimers he ended up dead before his first day was over.”  And of course there is also the obvious irreconcilable difference between police officers’ statements and the cell phone video produced by a passerby. “That is not all that common,” said Towey.

“I could see how my dad would have loved it here,” said Treavor Eimers when we finally met him on Thursday afternoon,

“He was a very easy going person.  He would talk to anyone.  He would have met people, ridden around on a bicycle, looked for a small room and tucked in for the winter.  That was his dream.”

Apparently CBS has been interviewing witnesses on camera and also paid a visit to David Horan and Darren Horan, the Eimers family attorneys.

Meanwhile, The Blue Paper also continues its investigation and unfortunately this week the image of how the death investigation is being handled by local law enforcement has again sunk deeper into the dark side.  A mysterious investigator who went around questioning those on scene immediately after Charles Eimers was taken away in an ambulance, has apparently been identified.  He was officer Nicholas Galbo of KWPD.  This again is very disturbing:  Galbo was seen collecting eyewitness statements on Thanksgiving Day, but he is also one of at least four officers known to have been physically involved in Eimers’ fatal arrest on the beach that same day.  Why was he allowed to be  involved in the investigation?

These are the facts:  Shortly after a comatose Charles Eimers was taken away in an ambulance, a team of two plainclothes officers interviewed eyewitnesses at the seaside restaurant.  One of the two was Detective Todd Stevens of KWPD.  However, eyewitnesses we interviewed said they believed they were speaking with FDLE investigators.  Witnesses reported feeling threatened and intimidated by remarks such as, ‘your record will be scrutinized’ and ‘do not talk to reporters’.

At about the same time, another KWPD officer was running around, also collecting witness statements.  He gave his card to one eyewitness, so we now know that he was Officer Galbo.  Galbo had his hands on Charles Eimers when he lost consciousness. He took part in the police chase right from the start.  In the report he filed, ‘only pursuant to orders and to avoid potential punishment,’ Galbo wrote:

“I began to parallel the vehicle’s direction of travel on Simonton Street.  The vehicle came to rest on the beach at the Southernmost Beach Café.  When I arrived on scene the subject was proned out on the sand.  I observed several officers already on scene attempting to place the subject in handcuffs.  I noticed officers did not have gloves or any PPE’s on so once the subject was detained I switched with them so they could clean up and prepare.  I controlled the subject’s legs from kicking up at officersAs the subject was being lifted he became unresponsive.  I assist[ed] in immediately removing the subject from restraints.  While other officer began to perform life saving techniques I started checking his pants pockets and jean jacket pocket for any type of medication or narcotic he may have taken or require to help assist.  First aid/CPR was administered as well as the use of an AED until fire fighters and paramedics arrived on scene and transported the subject to Lower Keys Medical Center.”

Now you would think an officer who had been present at the time of death: 1) knows exactly what happened and doesn’t really need to get the facts from witnesses and 2) if there is a need to investigate the possibility of excessive force in Eimers’ death, the last person you would want conducting any sort of investigation would be one of the very officers who could be responsible for that wrongful death.

KWPD Policy, Administrative Response to Critical Incidents, Policy 02.08.09.01 – Removal From Duty states:

“A.] Any member, while on-duty, or off-duty, whose actions in the line of duty result in death or serious bodily injury to another human being, shall be immediately removed from the line of duty until a preliminary Administrative Review is conducted.”

However, not only did none of the officers get put on administrative leave pending investigation, but officer Galbo was allowed to canvas the scene and interview witnesses.  In fact, Galbo actually filed two witness statements that he collected on Thanksgiving Day:  one statement made by Lesley Charlene Knotts and another by Jim Burton.  Both described Eimers’ car having “sped through the intersection.”  Burton also wrote, “Officers did a good job of flushing him without increasing panic.” These reports, favorable to the officers, and concerning only the car chase are for some reason the only witness statements that made it into evidence.

The other statements from eyewitnesses reporting multiple use of a Taser, unnecessary violence, and “legalized murder on the beach” as one witness put it, were not reduced to writing and were never filed in the case.  We had asked KWPD Public Information Officer Alyson Crean for all witness statements back in December.  Alyson Crean, sent us the two statements from Burton and Knotts, saying they were “everything there is.”  Those two Statement Forms were notarized by Officer Galbo.

“The staff at the hospital told us right away that Eimers was never going to leave,” said Chief Donie Lee,  “I decided to immediately treat the case as an in-custody death.”  So the question is, even if the Chief didn’t believe the officers involved should be suspended pending investigation, why did he allow one of his officers [who had been directly involved in events that led to Eimers’ death] to return to the scene and meddle with witnesses?

Officer Galbo had made the arrest; he knew what had happened.  Why would that particular officer show so much interest in what other people had seen?  The post arrest behavior of the officers is looking more and more like an emergency damage control effort and less and less like a quest for the truth.   It will be interesting to see what CBS News makes of this story.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!

21 comments on “CBS Morning Show Probes Key West In-Custody Death

  1. It’s unfortunate that so many individuals appear willing to destroy their careers, ruin their spiritual standing and place themselves in prison, because they are unable or unwilling to assume responsibility for their conduct.

    As predicted, this apparent corrupted investigation is proceeding true to form. I’ve seen it all before.

    This tragedy is not going away until everyone who had anything to do with Mr. Eimers killing, and its subsequent cover-up, are held accountable. The Mayor and Key West Commissioners are in part culpable and liable for the behavior and management of their police department.

    These elected officials appear to be negligent. They’ve done nothing to create an environment whereby an impartial and credible investigation might occur. It’s regrettable that these city officials have refused to respond to the detailed evidence secured through The Blue Paper Investigation.

    Police officers who could have stepped forward with an honest and detailed statement concerning this death, might have been immediately cleared of any wrongdoing.

    Chief Lee would have exhibited wisdom and integrity by not placing this investigation into the hands of a former husband and wife team with child. He could have demanded that independent investigative agents, unrelated to the case, be assigned to examine Mr. Eimers in-custody death. The chief could have promptly requested direction and assistance from the Justice Department.

    Instead, it appears that a ridiculous cover-up continues to cast a dark and libelous shadow over honest officers and staff.

    And still, not much in the form of leadership, accountability or compassion, from the leaders of our One Human Family.

    • my only quibble with your statement John is calling some of these jack boots “honest.” any officer(s) that know the truth, but cover up, do not come forward, or protect in any way their fellow officers, are as guilty in their complicity as the officers who (allegedly) physically murdered Mr. Eimers. since none have, can’t call them honest just yet.

      Donie Lee should be ousted immediately. those officers (allegedly) impersonating FDLE should be arrested and tried for that, immediately. the city manager, mayor and commissioners need to explain their inaction, and dereliction of office, immediately. This is a small town; this may be one of the last venues where the people can demand, and get action, let’s hope we do.

  2. “Why would that particular officer show so much interest in what other people had seen?”

    Hmmm, maybe Officer Galbo wanted to find out if anyone had seen anything; maybe he wanted to find out if anyone had seen anything not nice for the KWPD; maybe he wanted to impress on anyones who had seen anything not nice to KWPD that, to forget it, if they didn’t want something not nice to happen to them. I’m looking at Monroe County School Board Andy Griffiths’ ad on the right-side of your your blue page, and of his creed, “Praise in public, criticize in private.” Maybe Officer Galbo was influenced by Andy. I wonder how Andy is taking the blue paper not spending a lot of time criticizing KWPD in private? I wonder how Andy, or anyone not related by blood, marriage or employment to KWPD, could praise KWPD about anything concerning Charles Eimers? Well, I did hear one female police officer filed an incident report, which did not agree with the other officers’ incident reports. It remains to be seen if the Florida Department of Law Enforcement joins KWPD in its tightly-circled wagon train, or sides with the lone female officer aka The Minority Report – aka maybe the truth.

  3. Now the leaders of Key West must roll heads starting with the police chief and working down. If not, Key West insurers will most likely cancel coverage of Key West the corporation. There is a lot at stake here for the property owners of Key West and possibly Monroe County.

  4. I am grateful to The Blue Paper for not letting up and trying to get to the bottom of this tragedy. I knew immediately after watching the video here that the official KWPD account of what transpired was a complete fabrication to cover their butts. You could not make up a more twisted coverup of the “legalized murder” of Mr. Eimers than what KWPD has done from that Thanksgiving Day of 2013. It’s apparent that several KWPD officers should stand trial for what they did and we the public should demand nothing less. We also need a need a new Police Chief because the present one is nothing but a joke. We need to keep pressing those in charge of this island that we will not stand for the tactics of the police department any longer. A new FDLE lead investigator needs to be appointed, certainly not someone married to a KWPD officer.

  5. This story keeps getting better and better and the city of Key West is looking dirtier with each new revelation. The whole story up until now has been to CYA! I seriously doubt anyone on the City Commission will speak up. To do so will open the gates to their involvement in setting the tone for how THEY want the KWPD to treat the homeless. They may have to fire Donnie Lee, but to do so they risk chief Lee exposing them. The link between FDLE’s investigator is another major problem to be whitewashed by KWPD and FDLE. The only way the truth will come out in it’s entirety will be when certain members of KWPD make a deal to stay out of jail. Vaya Con Dios to Donnie Lee and whoever doesn’t tell the truth.

  6. Looks to me, angels got involved in this case just about from the start, by having a bystander with a camera ready to preserve the truth which, unpreserved, would have allowed the KWPD to get clean away with it. Then, looks to me, angels managed to keep Charles Eimers’ body from being cremated. Then, looks to me, angels steered, and kept steering Naja and Arnaud toward more unpleasant facts. Latest, looks to me, angels got CBS into it.

    I think you might find, if you do not already know it, that newly-filed mayor candidate Margaret Romeo is more severely inclined towards homeless people than are Mayor Cates and the current city commissioners.

    I invited Mayor Cates and the current city commissioners, during citizen comments at a commission meeting, to get involved in the Charles Eimers case. I told them Charels Eimers’ was suspected by KWPD officers of being homeless, and his death was the direct result of the aggressive tone they had set for how the city would deal with homeless people. I told them that Charles Eimers’ death was only the beginning of the city’s karma for how it treated homeless people.

    Awful as some homeless people are, sad as many of them are, infuriating as some of them are, they are human beings, and they have the same basic human, legal and spiritual rights all other people living in Key West have.

    Many times I told various city commissions that, because Key West had adopted One Human Family as its own official philosophy, God had taken that as an invitation to put Key West to the test by seeing how Key West treated its homeless people.

    The most influential person in human history today, the human calendar is based on his supposed birthday, was homeless while he did what would make him the most influential person in human history. The foxes had their dens, the birds had their nests, but he had no place to lay down his head, was written in what became the New Testament Gospels.

    Vaya con Dios is a good thing for Police Chief Donnie Lee, his police officers, the mayor and the city commissioners, and all of Key West to be doing even now with respect to the death of Charles Eimers, and with respect to everything else going on in the city and in their lives.

  7. If you all know nothing about Kathy, then don’t open your mouth. She’s had been working for FDLE for many years and she has always done her job. She and her ex aren’t stupid, give me a damn break, she knows her job and isn’t going to blow it over something like this. Always nice to have papers like this to make some sensation over BS to twist stories to sell their articles. God, if I were dead, I’d be rolling over in my grave right now from laughing at this article. But props to the article writers on this “story” trying to make things sound good, it sure worked to a point. My father used to be her supervisor for five years. He’s put other cops behind bars before so he sure as hell didn’t cover them up. “CBS Investigators”? sounds like kids trying to find the latest gossip about a fight that happened in the courtyard. Those aren’t no “investigators.” Chill out with this bull crap. They’re doing their jobs, FDLE would tear her hide to shreds if she decided on doing any funny business on a “cover-up” and she knows that. Articles like this just creates a scheme story against police officers and the state. Sorry not sorry to burst everyones’ bubble.

    • evermajo bubble busting is great when there is some bubble to burst but the only thing i see is a few specific cops still free after ‘killing’ yes KILLING an old man who didn’t offer one shred not one iota not an ounce of…thats NO resistance whatsoever!

      cowboy cops as i see it and if you took the time to connect the dots you would see a graphic example of big COVER UP from the start till almost creamation of mr eimers.

      do your tody best to deflect from this horrendous act of MURDER and that is what it was damn it! mr eimers was ASPHYXIATED and you can’t achive that yourself by holding your breath just a little too long.

      with all the attempted coverup so far is it any wonder why there would be a ‘smith’ question? i do hope she does her job in the finest tradition of truth justice and the american way so to speak but lets not be complacent and in a trusting mode and manner at this late stage in view of all the ‘CYA’ thats gone down right from the very first ‘POLICE REPORT’ packed with plain simple lies and deceptions known as ‘BULLSHIT’.

      mr eimers breath was ‘SQUEEZED’ out of him till he was dead dead dead and he sure didn’t do it to himself!

    • Evermajo: Might your father agree to an interview? We would be interested in whether, as a former supervisor at FDLE, he would feel comfortable with the way this FDLE investigation has been handled thus far. A few questions we might ask him: Would he approve of the following? [1] Five months after the fact, there are employees [easily accessible] with important information who were at the scene but who have not been interviewed by FDLE, [2] Even though FDLE was made aware, on Thansgiving Day, that Charles Eimers was never going to leave the hospital alive, no one from FDLE instructed the hospital staff not to discard lab specimens or to inform FDLE and the medical examiner, immediately, when Mr. Eimers was taken off life support – so as to keep track of the most important evidence in this case – Charles Eimers’ body. [3] Even though this is an investigation into a possible homicide, the investigators waited two and one-half months to question police officers [out of some respect for a PBA attorney’s preference on when to make a special trip to the Keys] rather than issuing subpoenas and questioning them immediately. [4] If we are to believe Captain Scott Smith’s statements in his reprimand letter to Todd Stevens, FDLE was informed at about the same time we here at The Blue Paper were informed [or one might hope BEFORE we were informed] – that is 1:19 pm on December 10th, 2013 – that Mr. Eimers had in fact been removed from life support on December 4th yet FDLE did not inform the medical examiner [even though the body was awaiting cremation that could occur at any moment] until almost 24 hours later at around noon on December 11th. The Funeral Director told us that he was informed by the Medical Examiner that he should not burn the body [NOT BY FDLE or KWPD]. Would your father approve of these methods of “investigation” and can this really be characterized as “just doing their jobs?”

  8. http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/ethics/Chapter_112.html

    (8) “Conflict” or “conflict of interest” means a situation in which regard for a private interest tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or interest.

    How much more “private” could the relationship between investigator and suspect be? Married, Child, Divorce…seems as private as it gets. The mere fact that she did not recuse herself exhibits her disregard for ethical behavior.

    • sister i can’t agree more. she needed to remove herself from the so called ‘investigation’ to insure absolutely no ‘taint’ regardless of her ‘assumed’ desire to be impartial.

      btw have the eyewitnesses been interviewed yet by fdle? it’s now what 6 months? the first part of any investigation is eyewitness statements..no? yes! while all the detail is fresh and strongly imprinted on the mind..no? not 6 months or more later when some perhaps can’t be found since they went back home from vacation or left key west to find a job in sunny cyprus or kinda forgot because its ‘been so long’ they can’t quite remember or? or? or?
      i think the point is made.

      this entire bureaucratic cya fiasco disgusts me deeply and the powers that be should be ashamed.
      where the hell is the concience?

  9. Professional Standards of Conduct require FDLE investigator Kathy Smith to recuse herself. This code of conduct provides clear direction to Chief Lee and Capt. Smith, not to hire the ex-wife and mother of Capt. Smith’s child, to investigate the killing of an innocent man, whose life was terminated while he was in the custody of Lee’s and Smith’s police department.

    Why was this minimal standard of conduct violated by Chief Lee? Why did this serious breach of protocol go unchallenged by the Mayor and City Commissioners?

    This common sense measure is designed to decrease the chances of bias, prejudice and nepotism from influencing the outcome of an investigation.

    Does this grave display of poor judgment demonstrate incompetence and negligence; or criminal misconduct? Why did senior FDLE investigator Kathy Smith knowingly accept an assignment that violated all standards and practices required for an impartial and accurate investigation? Why did her supervisor allow her to take on such an assignment?

    All investigators are imperfect and flawed. As we are beginning to see, they have a hard time wrestling with the details of an incident that might destroy and send to prison one of their fellow officers.

    If a law enforcement officer, state attorney or officer of the court attempts to influence the findings of a criminal investigation, they will have crossed the line and suffer the consequences.

    Denying an American their civil rights is a serious crime. Federal Prisons host such violators. As the plot thickens, the web of culpability is increasing.

    I’ve been a fan of the FDLE. Months ago suggestions were made on the best methods to employ in examining Mr. Eimers’ death. To the best of my knowledge, nothing that was shared has been utilized.

    If what is coming to light is true, FDLE is conducting a fraudulent investigation, that may in fact be a crime unto itself.

    “The Blue Paper’s Investigation” will be seen by the United States Attorney’s Office. It will chronicle the evidence and details of Mr. Eimers’ killing. It will show in a clear and convincing manner the apparent criminal actions that went into covering-up the cause of this innocent man’s death.

  10. Professional Standards of Conduct require FDLE investigator Kathy Smith to recuse herself. This code of conduct provides clear direction to Chief Lee and Capt. Smith, not to hire the ex-wife and mother of Capt. Smith’s child, to investigate the killing of an innocent man, whose life was terminated while he was in the custody of Lee’s and Smith’s police department.

    Why was this minimal standard of conduct violated by Chief Lee? Why did this serious breach of protocol go unchallenged by the Mayor and City Commissioners?

    This common sense measure is designed to decrease the chances of bias, prejudice and nepotism from influencing the outcome of an investigation.

    Does this grave display of poor judgment demonstrate incompetence and negligence; or criminal misconduct? Why did senior FDLE investigator Kathy Smith knowingly accept an assignment that violated all standards and practices required for an impartial and accurate investigation? Why did her supervisor allow her to take on such an assignment?

    All investigators are imperfect and flawed. As we are beginning to see, they have a hard time wrestling with the details of an incident that might destroy and send to prison one of their fellow officers.

    If a law enforcement officer, state attorney or officer of the court attempts to influence the findings of a criminal investigation, they will endure the consequences of their behavior.

    Denying an American of their civil rights is a serious crime. Federal Prisons host such violators. As the plot thickens, the web of culpability is increasing.

    I’ve been a fan of the FDLE. Months ago suggestions were made concerning the most effective methods to employ in examining Mr. Eimers’ death. To the best of my knowledge, nothing that was shared has been utilized.

    If what is coming to light is true, FDLE is conducting a fraudulent investigation, that may in fact be a crime unto itself.

    “The Blue Paper’s Investigation” will be seen by the United States Attorney’s Office. It will chronicle the evidence and details of Mr. Eimers’ killing. It will show in a clear and convincing manner the apparent criminal actions that went into covering-up the cause of this innocent man’s death.

  11. I would like to know what brand of Kool-Aid EVERMAJO has been drinking. Kathy Smith absolutely should have recused herself and she should have never been placed in charge of the FDLE investigation. At this point I don’t trust a bit what FDLE comes up with from their investigation. The video proves Mr. Eimers was “murdered” by members of KWPD and our ZERO of a police chief Donnie Lee has been involved in a massive coverup of what really occurred that Thanksgiving Day. I for one will not let this rest and our Mayor and Commissioners should hang their heads in shame for not addressing what has transpired so far.

    • It’s called Statist-Aid. Drink all day and you too will be empowered to assist, cover up and apologize for the ongoing oppression, theft and murder of innocent people worldwide. Comes in 3 delicious flavors. Just add gmo sugar.

Leave a Reply