“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.
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.