New Witness Comes Forward: “The Police Just Killed A Man”

Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers
Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

“I saw an officer kneeling in front of the man with a knee on his back and he was holding the man’s head down in the sand. The man had a reflex lift of legs once head pushed down.  One of the officers had placed a small black device on the man’s back after the lift of legs […] The female officer then started walking away from the scene, shaking her head.”  [See bystander video here.]

This statement was given this week by a tourist from Maryland [We’ll call her “M”] who was having breakfast at the Southernmost Beach Café last Thanksgiving Day.  The man she describes was Charles Eimers, who would soon die in police custody. 

text box 1“The man,” she continues, “did not move for a minute and then the officers backed away from the man and turned him over in the direction of my view.  The man’s lips were bright pinkish-red and his face was blue and coated with sand.  I could see the sand was covering his face and nostrils.  I saw blood on the man’s head.  He was not moving. […]  Everyone either gasped or negative comments were yelled.”

The witness, who works within the U.S District Court system in Maryland, wrote that after ten minutes she walked out through the cafe’s Duval Street entrance.  “I was in shock from the scene on the beach and was shaking and crying.”  To anyone who asked her a question she only said, “The police just killed a man.”

This comes in sharp contrast to KWPD’s attorney’s view of the case that has been filed against the officers and the City in federal court.  They argue that what happened to Charles Eimers is not really that egregious because [and we are not making this up] the officers didn’t even high-five each other over his dead body.  For some reason this argument inspired the Key West Citizen to headline an article with “Allegations Overblown In Eimers Death.”

“This is only the beginning,” says David Paul Horan, referring to the discovery of the unexpected new witness.  David Horan [along with his son Darren] represents the Eimers family in the wrongful death suit filed in April.  “Soon we’ll be able to subpoena credit card slips for that morning and track down even more witnesses.”  The Horans are particularly interested in speaking with a group of New York police officers who were on vacation and having breakfast at the beachside café that morning.  According to a café employee one of those officers had yelled out, “This is legalized murder on the beach!”

Another interesting element in the Maryland witnesses’ statement is the reference to a mysterious “small black device on the man’s back.”  This could hardly describe a standard Taser X26 used by Key West police officers which is in the shape of a large black and yellow hand gun, but it could explain the mystery of the multiple shocks described by many witnesses.  According to the KWPD, no shocks were recorded on any of the officers’ Tasers.  Each X26 has a data port that records every deployment of the Taser.  The Blue Paper has spoken with a local eyewitness who claims to have observed a KWPD officer threatening him with a ‘stun gun’ – unmistakably different from a official Taser X26, the only shock device that on duty KWPD officers are allowed to carry.  Obviously the practice of carrying a “personal piece” would save the officer from filling out reports as well as from oversight.  If such an undeclared ‘stun gun’ were used during Eimers arrest, there would be no record of it.

According to Taser International, a Taser blast creates an intense muscular contraction that requires heavy breathing.  Arguably, a shock from a stun gun could considerably shorten the time for fatal asphyxiation to occur.

text box 2“M” also provided a clear picture of the reaction of the numerous witnesses who were sitting at the restaurant that morning.  According to “M”, the hostility towards police was unmistakable.  They yelled, “Did you at least call an ambulance?”  People were openly “commenting that they (police) murdered him.”

In “M”s opinion, “there was definite excessive police force used that day during that arrest.  The prone restraint used by the officers was not necessary that day on that beach.  KWPD should never use prone restraint again on sand, or in mud, or in water.”

In such a hostile environment, it is not surprising that police thought it better not to collect contact information for civilian eyewitnesses but rather to disperse everyone from the scene.  It would also explain why the two KWPD ‘investigators’ who came to interview [or reportedly – intimidate] the employee witnesses let people believe they were FDLE agents.

With FDLE expected to soon hand over the final report of its investigation to the State Attorney, one wonders about how well the investigation was conducted.  One fact brought out in M’s statement is alarming:

She wrote:

“On January 30, 2014, I contacted the FDLE-Carol Frederick and left a voice message with my name and phone number.  I have verification to this fact on a phone bill.  I never received any calls or messages concerning this incident from FDLE or anyone else.”

text box 3Now, this is the same criticism we’ve heard from other witnesses who contacted The Blue Paper.  Some of the witnesses we spoke to say they tried for months to speak with FDLE agents to no avail.  Others, workers at the café who saw everything, have never been contacted by FDLE agents at all.  Just yesterday we received this message from one such eyewitness, “They don’t want to interview me… it’s weird.  I had the best view from beginning to end and no one cares.”

“The staff and patrons standing at Duval Street entrance,” says “M”, “watched and recorded / took pictures with their cell phones.  We continued to watch the scene for about 10 minutes.  I left the restaurant […] no officer tried to stop us or any other patrons of the café.”

It is hard not to wonder what happened to all of those videos – especially the ones taken by employees. People, who we at The Blue Paper interviewed, told us they had been instructed by KWPD ‘investigators’ not to talk about what happened.

There seems to be a pattern in these excessive force cases, with officers systematically disregarding independent civilian witnesses.  In the case of Matthew Shaun Murphy, who is still in a hospital bed after being tased by a KWPD officer on Duval Street three years ago, as well as in the Eimers case, law enforcement failed to take eyewitness contact information and FDLE failed to interview civilian witnesses, concentrating only on the police officers who had immediately overwhelmed the crime scene and who were the only witnesses FDLE showed any interest in interviewing.

Under strict KWPD policy, all persons present were supposed to be identified and kept separate from each other until FDLE investigators arrived.  FDLE, as per the Memorandum of Understanding with KWPD, was to investigate the serious injury. It was FDLE’s duty to interview all witnesses and preserve the evidence.  Yet the lab samples taken at the hospital were destroyed, the body was very nearly cremated before autopsy, and it took six months to shame them into finally agreeing to listen to a couple of independent witnesses. If there was obstruction of justice in this case, FDLE was the agency most responsible for it, yet its agents are the ones in charge of the investigation.

So what happens when the police ‘lose’ evidence, chase away or intimidate witnesses, or bypass control devices?  According to our research, it seems to have the initial effect of fending off criminal prosecution of police officers who could otherwise face assault or murder charges.

However, the scheme seems to backfire at the civil trial level.  Apparently juries are willing to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, even in extreme cases, unless they believe that there was an attempt at a cover-up.

In Florida and some other jurisdictions, the Judge may even instruct the jury that they may draw an adverse inference against the officer(s).  The logic being that police would have interviewed the witnesses had they not been certain that the testimony would incriminate them.  This allows jurors to find in favor of a Plaintiff even when there is no direct evidence of excessive force.

Following the trend, it will not be surprising if FDLE’s ‘Investigative Report’ were to conclude that no criminal wrong doing is readily apparent in the Eimers death.  Which in turn will leave the road wide open for the City to be hammered in the upcoming civil rights suit.

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UPDATE:  FDLE finally handed over their investigative report to State Attorney Catherine Vogel on Thursday afternoon [June 19, 2014].  Vogel has scheduled the report to be reviewed by the Monroe County Grand Jury from July 21-23.  Click here for full BREAKING NEWS article.

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

ISSUE 67 CBS EIMERS for web

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!

8 comments on “New Witness Comes Forward: “The Police Just Killed A Man”

  1. Geting hard to trust anyone in authority. The e mail below is another example. The state attorney should also look into this intent to circumvent the law.:

    From: Tom Walker [mailto:twalker@fkaa.com]
    Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 3:03 PM
    To: Iglehart, Jon;Oni, James;Ahmadi, Abdul
    Cc: Robert Feldman;wesley.self@layne.com
    Subject: Big Pine Key Collection System

    Mr. Iglehart, we heard from your staff today that an “Intent to Issue” may be utilized for the collection system permit on North Big Pine Key. FKAA strongly believes that such action will lead to an administrative hearing. We also believe the system is a straightforward design similar to the other collection systems in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System and should be handled similar to these other permit applications; without an Intent to Issue formality.

    As you know, a third party know as “Dump the Pump” is looking at any means to delay and uproot our project. They would certainly have a keen interest in filing a petition for an administrative hearing. An administrative hearing will cause a major delay leading to contract claims, missing deadlines and potential moratorium with loss of millions in Monroe County.

    Mr. Feldman would like to meet with you on this matter before you’ve made a final decision on issuing the permit for North Big Pine Key.

    Thanks for your consideration,

    Tom Walker

    Tom G. Walker, P.E.

    Manager of engineering
    florida keys aqueduct authority

    305.295-2140

  2. When I bumped into Arnaud and Naja at Harpoon Harry’s yesterday morning, I said, “I hope you have another bone-crusher for tomorrow’s issue.” Naja said they did. They did. I just read it.

    Perhaps it is time for the Horan law firm to consider trying to bring FDLE into the federal lawsuit as a “co-conspirator after the fact” – ie. as part of the cover up which began on South Beach last Thanksgiving Day, when KW police did not interview and take statements from eye witnesses, and told eye witnesses to be quiet about what they saw. It is true, if a defendant is found to have tampered or hidden evidence, or even has tried to do that, a jury is entitled to draw adverse in inference from that against the defendant. It also is true, if a defendant has lied as to a material fact in a case, a jury is entitled to disregard the defendant’s entire testimony.

    The cover up in this case started at South Beach, and continued in KW police officers’ incident reports, in not notifying the Eimers family, in trying to get Charles Eimers’ body cremated, and perhaps in the hospital losing, or throwing away, tissue samples from his body. The Medical Examiner quitting and moving elsewhere perhaps cannot be taken at face value – I suppose we will know more about that when the final autopsy is published.

    What I’m driving at is, FDLE had nothing to do with the death of Charles Eimers, other than perhaps a general “grapevine” knowledge that FDLE was inclined to bend over backward to exonerate law enforcement officers accused of committing crimes in the way they apprehended suspects.

    All that bone-crushing must not, however, sweep away what caused Charles Eimers to be dead on South Beach last Thanksgiving Day. What caused Eimers to be dead was he was suspected of living in his PT Cruiser, he was suspected of being homeless. According to Naja and Arnaud, one cop on top of Eimers later boasted to a friend that he had elbowed “the bum” in the back of the neck, or maybe it was in the back of the head. In Key West, “bum” is synonymous with “homeless”.

    That, CBS did not go anywhere near, which I found astounding, since CBS knew about it. That, to me, is the real elephant in this living room. Charles Eimers would not have died on South Beach, if he had not been profiled as being homeless.

    Homeless people in Key West will tell you, if they trust you, that there are KW police who go out of their way to be hard on homeless people. Lord it over homeless people. Boss homeless people around just because they are cops and can do it. Threaten homeless people with jail, if they don’t comply with orders to do something, stop doing something, which orders have no legal basis.

    It was a time bomb ticking – Key West’s homeless policy, which the City Commission formulated and KW city police carried out. It’s been a time bomb ticking for years. The time bomb went off last Thanksgiving Day on South Beach, when Charles Eimers and his body and bones were crushed into the sand.

    Not even yet have the mayor and city commissioners expressed public remorse, not even yet have they apologized to the Eimers family. They are part of the cover up, too. More than that, they are responsible for the city’s aggressive homeless policy and the way their police enforce it. And, yes, so are the people of Key West, who agree with that aggressive homeless policy.

    If I were the Horans, I would depose City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, who has plainly stated a number of times in public meetings, including city commission meetings, that he wants all homeless people in Key West made to stay in a homeless shelter up the Keys, on Rockland Key, on Big Coppit Key. Tony has used the bum word describing homeless people who do not meet his approval: homeless people who are not actively trying to turn their lives around.

    In Key West, Tony has a large following on that attitude. That attitude, which got the bum Charles Eimers killed on South Beach last Thanksgiving. Eimers died then. What was resuscitated was merely his body. He was not coming back, as time proved. Then, the KWPD tried to get rid of the evidence – Eimers body. They tried, because they didn’t want an autopsy done, is how this former practicing attorney would argue it to a federal judge and jury.

    • And, I would argue among people that angels of the Lord stopped Charles Eimers body from being cremated, and before that they had a bystander shoot a video of what happened on South Beach and had the video smuggled to the blue paper, and they provided the witness who told what his cop friend had boasted about beating Eimers up, and now it looks like the angels have provided another witness, and maybe the angels will provide more human witnesses. I am getting in my dreams, as is a friend of mine in another state, that Heaven is not going to go quietly in the Eimers case.

  3. I’m afraid Sloan is correct in stating some in our “one human family” give tacit approval to intimidation and violence to the general homeless population. For example, the “Citizen’s Voice” comment that “Maybe now that that vagrant is dead, it might keep other vagrants from coming here.” A real humanitarian voice.

  4. If in fact this investigation is incomplete or it has been corrupted, through malfeasance on the part of FDLE, it must not be brought before the grand jury, as is.

    Carol Frederick (FDLE Supervisor) of the “Eimer’s Killing”, was contacted by a credible eyewitness who works for the U.S. District Court system in Maryland via voicemail on January 30, 2014. This witness wanted to give testimony concerning this innocent man’s death. She possessed a plethora of relevant information related to the immediate events surrounding the police action that caused this fatality.

    The call was ignored by Ms. Frederick. She refused to contact, review or record this very pertinent testimony. This revealing evidence is not a part of the case. This apparent negligence and neglect invalidates the entire review of this matter.

    FDLE violated three serious tenets contained within their Investigative Code of Conduct. Kathy Smith (FDLE), ex-wife and mother of Capt. Smith’s child, violated all investigative doctrines when she assumed the duties to examine this death. Her former husband (Capt. Smith) is a Commanding Officer in the KWPD. All of the police officers under scrutiny in the aforementioned killing are linked to Capt. Smith.

    Catherine Vogel, please conduct your own investigation. Do not be lured into proceeding on anything, until you are certain that you’ve arrived at a complete, accurate and detailed understanding of all the evidence. Verifiable documentation attests to the fact that the FDLE investigation is not worth the paper that it is written on.

    Not too long ago a State Attorney from another judicial circuit was under pressure to bite on the garbage that had been presented to him in a similar investigation. From the onset, it contained thousands of tainted reports and compromised information, urging him to proceed in a manner that would have destroyed him, both personally and professionally.

    Instead, he demonstrated restraint, poise and wisdom, while he deliberatively launched his own investigation. His efforts to pursue accuracy and justice, spared him a ruinous end, while exposing the criminal conduct of law enforcement officials.

    Catherine, you are performing the duties of a state attorney in an admirable manner. Do not allow yourself to be tarnished by the rubbish being passed on to you.

    Before the FDLE Investigation even comes out; it is maligned, deficient and defective. It is going to be examined with a fine tooth comb. It’s not going to be pretty. Even the appearance of an attempted cover-up, is not going to be good for anyone.

    Please don’t dirty yourself with FDLE’s nonsense. They screwed it up from the start.

    A lot is riding on the decision you make. It’s the hope of many, that you expeditiously initiate an independent investigation. Thank you…

    • Thank you, John – Base on what I’m reading in the blue paper, its reporting, reader comments, it looks to me that Catherine Vogel, or the Florida Attorney General, should put FDLE and Carol Frederik before a Grand Jury for their role in the Eimers case.

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