First Crack In The Blue Wall of Silence

“Someone better get him away from me before I arrest the son of a bitch myself!”

When the other officer asked “KA” what she was talking about, according to a witness, she said, “He just murdered that man.”  “That Man” was Charles Eimers and “KA” is Kathyann Wanciak of the Key West Police Department, who on Thanksgiving morning, along with other officers, was arresting Eimers on South Beach at the end of Duval St.  Within a few minutes Eimers would pass out facedown in the sand, wrists lacerated by tight hand-cuffs, blue in the face, and no longer breathing.  He would never regain consciousness.  Thousands of people have since seen the video captured by a bystander, which instantly raised questions of excessive force.

It took over 3 weeks for our still confidential source to decide to call someone about what he/she had heard that morning.  That was a quickly closing porthole into what really happened that day.  If our witness is correct, KA became so infuriated by the egregious behavior of one other officer that for a brief moment she broke the sacrosanct police “code of silence”.

KA’s statement is what’s called an “excited utterance”, a statement so close to a person’s initial perception that it must be true.  It’s an exception to the rule against hearsay. In other words, the “He just murdered that man!” statement could be admissible in court as evidence against whoever “he” was.

Since then the crack in the “Blue Wall of Silence” has re-sealed:  KA’s official report, like all of the reports submitted by officers on scene that day, was made only after strict order of the Chief of Police and under protest.  In KA’s version she supposedly left the scene to go fetch a leg restraint from her car and didn’t come back to the scene until Eimers was already dead.  Right…

“She will have to make a choice,” Police Chief Donie Lee told us,  “She will have to answer questions, under oath, twice, once during the FDLE investigation and then for the Key West Police internal affairs investigation.  If she is aware of something so egregious, she will have to make a choice.”

And that is the “Blue Wall of Silence” for you.  “Testilying” is the term used in the world of law enforcement for officers who, under oath, make false statements to procure a conviction or to protect another officer.

So, who is “he”?  And how are we ever going to find out if the other officers keep refusing to cooperate?  Well, fortunately, another crack just opened in the wall.

Apparently, one officer can’t help but make admissions in front of civilian witnesses.  He also is the only officer who was described in KA’s report as having pulled out a Taser.   His name is Gary Lee Lovette.

Lovette has the face of a benevolent giant, a Vin Diesel look-a-like with a sleeve of multicolored tattoos.  He is a favorite amongst the Crossfit crowd, people who train in ‘extreme gym’, throwing gigantic cement rocks and flipping bulldozer tires up and down the streets.

The following is a verbatim excerpt from a statement given to The Blue Paper this week by a witness who also asked that we protect his/her identity:

“[Lovette] began telling __________ what a crappy Thanksgiving it had been because he was working.  He said that they pulled someone over at Southernmost Beach Café. The guy had been driving erratically and was obviously another homeless bum as his car was packed full of his belongings.  He said it was obvious he was living out of his car.  He said that when the man got out of the vehicle he was swinging and carrying on so badly that they had to take him down.  He said that in the scuffle of trying to get handcuffs on him one of the other officers got his pinky stuck in the handcuffs.  Officer Lovette stated that he drew his Taser and held it to Charles Eimers’ back.   He said he couldn’t use it though because if he would have tased the suspect the officer whose finger was stuck in the cuff would have been tased too.  He said that there was two of them, him and another officer that were on the guys back holding him down prone in the sand.  He said the guy was obviously on something because he was thrashing his feet out and practically lifting them both off of him.  Like he was just like going berserk.  Officer Lovette said he slammed his elbow down into the back of his head and the guy quieted down.  And then the next thing he knew the guy had lost consciousness.  You know he was just basically laughing about it, about how you know he was probably a crack head.  Who knows what these people are on and stuff like that. Like it was just like a big joke.”

Some of Lovette’s alleged admissions are consistent with other accounts:

  • Sgt. Zamora reported noticing “blood behind [Eimers’] right ear”.  Could that have been the result of having been elbowed by Lovette?
  • A witness on the beach that day described an officer who held a Taser making a move in the area of Eimers’ neck, which appeared to immediately result in loss of consciousness.
  • “The toxicology report,” says Eimers’ son Treavor, “came back negative for both drugs and alcohol.”  But Lovette’s assumption that Eimers was intoxicated supports the notion that the officers could have confused Eimers’ desperate efforts to grasp for air with drug-induced resistance.

Is Lovette’s alleged elbowing of Eimers’ head the act denounced by KA as “murder”?  With public admissions by one officer and public accusations by another, is the “Blue Wall of Silence” finally crumbling?  Not quite. But, amazingly enough things could be a lot worse:  As we discovered this week it is only through a pure miracle that the main, most essential component of the evidence in this entire case was not destroyed.  Yes, the body of Charles Eimers was very nearly cremated before the medical examiner could perform an autopsy!

“It’s just an extraordinary coincidence,” Bob Dean of Dean Lopez Funeral Home told us, “Under normal circumstances the body would have been cremated.”  By law Funeral Homes in Florida must retain bodies for 48 hours prior to conducting a cremation service, allowing time for the medical examiner to request an autopsy.  “After a few days we typically cremate the body.  It just so happened that our schedule didn’t allow it.  If it had been in Miami the body would have been cremated for sure.”

It actually took 7 days from the day Eimers was pronounced dead at the hospital for FDLE to notify the medical examiner. With officers cooperating under protest and with essential evidence reduced to ashes, chances are this investigation would not have gone anywhere.

How could this have happened?  As it stands, the policy regarding the custody and protection of evidence is one of the most important parts of police work.

Apparently a decision to perform an autopsy depends on whether the deceased’s physician finds that they  died of natural causes or whether it is considered a suspicious death. In Eimers’ case the physician at the hospital initially wrote on the certificate:  Died of “Natural Causes”.  Eimers’ family signed forms authorizing Dean Lopez Funeral Home to cremate the body; and everything continued along, so conveniently and perfectly wrong.

But how is it possible that the physician had no “suspicions”?  To understand this, one must return to the very beginning.  The official version of Eimers’ death was based on Lovette’s account, written down that day in officer Celcer’s Incident Report:  Eimers “exited the car and began actively fighting their attempts to take him into custody.“  He fought the police until, all of a sudden, he collapsed, presumably from a heart attack.  Officers tried to revive him.  According to Eimer’s son Treavor, that was the story that detective Todd Stevens told him when he visited his dad at the hospital on December 4th.

Arguably, the same story could have been served to the physician, together with the many bottles of heart medication found inside Eimers’ car and confirmation by Treavor Eimers that his dad had been diagnosed with congestive hear failure two months earlier.  The physician logically concluded that Charles Eimers worked himself into a heart attack caused by pre-existing heart issues.  But it appears that the story was just that: a story.  Eimers did not collapse all of a sudden and “According to what the medical examiner told me,” says Treavor Eimers who is a nurse anesthetist, “my father’s death was not caused by a cardiac event.”

Witnesses and a video of the arrest have now brought up a much darker version of the terrifying, agonizing last moments of Charles Eimers, a tourist-for-a-day in our so-called ‘Paradise”.

And if not for a strange suite of quasi-miracles, if anyone is to blame in Charles Eimers’ death, he almost got away with it.

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

Click here to access all Blue Paper articles on the death of Charles Eimers.

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EDITOR’S CLARIFICATION 1/4/14:  The “make a choice” quote from Chief of Police, Donie Lee appears to be misconstrued by some readers.   In the context of the interview, “she will have to make a choice” clearly meant the Chief was expecting his officers to tell the truth.  The conversation included extensive detail regarding the possible administrative actions that could be taken against officers who refuse to cooperate in the investigation.    [The goal here is to arrive at the truth.]

IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS:  If you have any information about the death of Charles Eimers please come forward and contact us at The Blue Paper (305) 304-6882.   We have reason to believe there was a full video captured during the arrest of Charles Eimers.  If you have such a video or know someone who has such a video please contact us.  If you were present and overheard conversations that morning on the beach or have overheard police officers discussing the incident thereafter please come forward.

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!

16 comments on “First Crack In The Blue Wall of Silence

  1. lee needs resign as chief now! his lack of police officer integrety a couple of years back over the early morning fight and expulshion from his home of his drunken lover only to see the young boy get into his car and immeadiatly have a car accident…his political posturing last year on a 2nd amendment issue of baning certain type rifles…and now the eimers extremely sad state of affairs and his statement ‘based on what i know so far i don’t think the officers acted inappropriatly’ and his current vailed intimidation that ‘she will have to make a choice’ “If she is aware of something so egregious, she will have to make a choice.” when there is no choice but for the TRUTH and truth only its time for this type of mindset to call it quits or be fired!
    the city must command impecable leadership in its police dept or run the risk of it becomes a pack of THUGS such as this most unfortunate untimely and avoidable death is demonstrating. suffocation is a terrible way to leave this world and the people responsible must be held accountable and removed from our streets.

    • in the light of the editors clarification 1/4/14 i will stand corrected after seeing the chief publicly demand the truth from all parties concerned and work tirelessly toward that end and fully support any officer that ‘breaks the wall of silence’ to the detriment of any guilty officer and the ‘close your mouth’ union.
      and in addition renounce any police dept denouncation of the blue paper on the kwpd facebook page as per the below post of ‘skd’ and divulge the authority and person[s] responsible for the facebook entry.

      also if skd would be kind enough to post the facebook entry for all of us that do not use social media would be appreciated.

  2. It’s very important that the good folks of Key West do not rest until this man’s family get’s true justice….if people lose their job or go to jail so be it….

  3. You might or might not enjoy an email discussion I had yesterday with a fellow who lives in Nashville and is following the blue paper’s reporting, as well as my own, on this sad state of conch affairs. You can see that conversation between Nasville J and me at http://www.goodmorningkeywest.com, on January 4, 2014. Scroll down that post to the Grand Ole Opry pic and start reading. It’s about why cops don’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and why cops and their benevolent police union, protect cops first, the public second, and what it probably will take to crack this case all the way wide open.

    More kudos to Naja and Arnaud Girard for cracking this case this wide open so far. More sympathies to Charles Eimers’ family for their loss and what they now are having to endure because of blue line priorities. Many Key West people are outraged about what happened to Charles, and they are further outraged by how the city officials and their police chief have gone about not dealing with it, so far.

  4. Love how the Key West PD is denouncing the Blue Paper on their Facebook page. You would think they would be more professional than that. Oh, wait….that’s right… it’s the KWPD. Bumbling idiots.

  5. Sorry for the delay…. here is the post from the KWPD facebook page.

    Key West Police Department

    December 30, 2013
    .

    The article in this week’s edition of “The Blue Paper” published false and disingenuous information regarding the death of Charles Eimers after his arrest on Thanksgiving Day. Key West Police Chief Donie Lee did NOTattribute the man’s death to asphyxiation. In fact, the Monroe County Medical Examiner has not yet determined the cause of death. In an interview on US 1 Radio, Chief Lee expressed his regrets to the family and said that the Department is confident that a routine investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will confirm that Mr. Eimers was not Tasered During his arrest. Reporter Ezra Marcus commented about the cause of Mr. Eimer’s death, but his comment is pure speculation on his part. The Key West Police Department regrets the sensational and untrue comments posted by “The Blue Paper” and encourages the community to listen to last week’s interview at US1Radio.com

    • Here is a reply written by a Blue Paper contributor, [found on the Key West Police Department web page below the official police dept post] which explains our perspective:

      “It’s also important to note that indeed Donie did concur – twice in fact – on the air with comments by Ezra Marcus where he stated that Eimers had died of asphyxiation. Stating that Donnie “did not attribute” it is a matter of semantics.

      Donie has been a fine Police Chief, and I personally feel that this matter will be resolved honorably. But the accusations in this news release are a disservice to Key West’s finest investigative journalist team — the same team that uncovered the improper ownership of Wisteria Island, that kept the North Roosevelt one-way traffic problems on the front-burner, that helped drive the Balfour-Beatty tax rip-off resolution, etc, etc. I believe the Police Department owes them an apology for their statements in this press release.”

      In fact the Chief told Ezra, immediately after Ezra stated that the medical examiner had found asphyxia to be the cause of death, that Ezra had a job as a PIO [Public Information Officer] for he had done such an excellent job and the Chief could not have summarized it better himself. The Blue Paper assumed the Chief had spoken with the medical examiner or had seen his report – The Blue Paper did not assume the Chief wasn’t paying close attention to what Ezra had said – especially since he complimented Ezra on his summary (twice).

      Chief Donie Lee has since stated on US 1 radio that Eimers MAY HAVE died of asphyxia and that he probably should have corrected Ezra’s statement that day.

      Charles Eimers’ son Treavor, a nurse anesthetist, has spoken directly with the medical examiner who, Treavor Eimers states, has confirmed that Eimers’ death was not a caused by a heart attack.

  6. CANCUN, MEXICO

    6 cops detained in US man’s death
    Mexican authorities say they have detained
    six police officers in the death of a U.S. man
    who died after being arrested for disorderly
    conduct in the resort city of Playa del
    Carmen.

    Quintana Roo state Assistant Attorney
    General Carlos Alvarez said Friday that Yeudi
    Estrada Carrero died Wednesday inside
    a patrol truck while three police officers
    restrained him.

    Alvarez says the 28-year-old fitness instructor
    died of asphyxiation after at least one of
    the officers pressed his foot against Estrada’s
    neck.

    Alvarez says Estrada was from New York
    state and lived and worked in Cancun.
    He says an autopsy found Estrada had
    consumed cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

  7. Received this from one of my regular readers at http://www.goodmorningkeywest.com, whom I call “Nashville J”.

    Sloan:

    Key West Police Department
    December 30, 2013
    .
    The article in this week’s edition of “The Blue Paper” published false and disingenuous information regarding the death of Charles Eimers after his arrest on Thanksgiving Day. Key West Police Chief Donie Lee did NOTattribute the man’s death to asphyxiation. In fact, the Monroe County Medical Examiner has not yet determined the cause of death. In an interview on US 1 Radio, Chief Lee expressed his regrets to the family and said that the Department is confident that a routine investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will confirm that Mr. Eimers was not Tasered During his arrest. Reporter Ezra Marcus commented about the cause of Mr. Eimer’s death, but his comment is pure speculation on his part. The Key West Police Department regrets the sensational and untrue comments posted by “The Blue Paper” and encourages the community to listen to last week’s interview at US1Radio.com.

    WTF? Is that what the FDLE is going to investigate? While knowing if Mr. Eimers was tasered is certainly of interest and possibly important to the case – it is not the most important thing. How about the lies KWPD Officers made about Mr. Eimers getting out of his car and immediately beginning to resist arrest? The Tape proves that was a LIE. We know that his reportedly having a heart attack was a LIE.

    What the KWPD really regrets is the sensational and TRUE comments posted by “The Blue Paper”. What the KWPD really regrets is the sensational and TRUE video tape that “The Blue Paper” posted which shows that the KWPD officers lied in their description of what happened. YEP – they really regret that there is video and “The Blue Paper” has it and has spread it far and wide.

    J

    Me to J:

    Can I forward yours to Naja, for her to post it as a reader comment, sans ID’ing you? Or, can you sign into http://www.thelbuepaper.com and get yourself a handle and start submitting your sweet poison darts under their articles? That probably would be better, and you copy me with it, for publishing on my side of the barbed wire :-)

    J:

    You can certainly forward to Naja for her to as a reader comment, sans ID’ing me. I probably would not sign up – just another handle and password for me to forget.

    I just always find it interesting how OFFICIALS always try to get the PUBLIC’s eyes off the real subject and want you to look somewhere else. As in the tasering instead of the stuffing his face in the sand and killing him.

    “sweet poison darts” – who ? Little ole me ? :-)

    J

    Me to J:

    See the last comment at this time under the blue paper’s current blue linen article, 6 Cancun cops detained for asphyxiation of American in local police van. Maybe we should hire their Department of Legal Enforcement.

  8. It is quite easy to jump to conclusions. And isn’t it fun to ASSUME that the police are really the bad guys? The bottom line here is that this WAS avoidable, and it NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED if a citizen had not just driven away from a legitimate police stop. People in their right mind don’t do that. As an officer, people who are not in their right mind (whether it be due to intoxicants, drugs or dementia) are very scary. When humans are scared they sometimes become defensively aggressive. If an officer went too far, I’m confident the investigation will uncover that fact. In the meantime…perhaps we should all stop jumping to conclusions and stick to facts. The only fact I can see here that is conclusive….if Mr Eimers had not driven away from the officer (for whatever reason) we would not be having this discussion now.
    And, by the way, if anyone wants to strap on a weapon and stand between the bad guys and the public to protect and serve, I think we should all cut them a little slack when things don’t go quite the way the book says they should. “Police Brutality” is UNACCEPTABLE…but let’s make sure that’s what it really is before we hang anyone for it, shall we?

    • We’ll never no why he drove away at 5 miles an hour because he was killed by the police for ” actively fighting” as you can see clearly in the video. If this was someone you care about you’d be singing a different tune Just Jim

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