State Attorney Sends Eimers Case to Grand Jury

FDLE’s investigative report in the Eimers case is finally in. No word yet on what the recommendations of the investigators are.

The office of State Attorney Catherine Vogel announced today that the matter of the Charles Eimers in-custody death will be presented for review to the Monroe County Grand Jury on July 21, 22, and 23rd.

That decision however doesn’t appear to be a direct consequence of yesterday’s filing of the FDLE Investigative Report since, according to Christopher Weber, Chief Investigator for the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office, Vogel had decided weeks ago to submit the case to the Grand Jury.  The case has been assigned to prosecutors Val Winters and Mark Wilson, who will present the evidence.

According to sources “in the loop” at the office of the Monroe County Medical Examiner, FDLE had already presented their report to the State Attorney once before but the report had been sent back to FDLE with a request for more information.

Weber told The Blue Paper, The State Attorney’s Office would not be conducting their own investigation, but would be taking statements from anyone who might spontaneously come forward between now and 5:00 p.m. on July 7, 2014.

We have been reporting for several months that several employees at the Southernmost Beach Cafe, who were present the morning of Eimers arrest and who have important information concerning the case, were never interviewed by FDLE.  The situation has triggered comments from members of the legal community, “A Grand Jury review could be premature,” says former State Attorney Dennis Ward, “if witnesses who are readily available have not been interviewed.”

The FDLE report has been described as nearly eight inches thick, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate a bounty of information, as it would likely include lengthy depositions and summary reports for as many as 13 police officers.

As to possible charges, officers could be facing assault or homicide charges, depending, in large part, on whether any officers came forward and testified against fellow officer[s].

And of course, there are the matters peripheral to the case:  the violation of criminal statute regarding the handling of evidence, particularly relative to the failure to inform the Medical Examiner of Eimers death and to properly preserve medical evidence, like lab samples and Eimers body.

Criminal prosecution of excessive force cases is notoriously an uphill battle – tangled in political pressures.  It seems that Catherine Vogel has chosen a politically conservative path:  going far enough to initiate proceedings while leaving the final decision to prosecute or not to prosecute to a Grand Jury, yet in any case, choosing not to initiate her own criminal investigation.

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


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10 comments on “State Attorney Sends Eimers Case to Grand Jury

  1. There were two ways State Attorney Cathy Vogel could have gone at it. Convening a grand jury is one way. Presenting what evidence she wished to present to a local state (circuit) judge is another way, which is how it was done by the state attorney Governor Scott appointed in the George Zimmerman case.

    I have had no experience with Val Winters. I know Mark Wilson. He is an experienced prosecutor. He was State Attorney Dennis Ward’s go to prosecutor. I share Ward’s concern that it may be too soon to convene a Grand Jury. It may be more witnesses need to be interviewed by the State Attorney Office before the Grand Jury is convened. Even so, this is a positive development, because indicates Vogel is not prepared to wait in the result of an Internal Affairs Investigation. It might indicate Vogel is not thrilled with FDLE’s investigation. If, in fact, FDLE did not interview witnesses it was advised had information bearing on the FDLE investigation, that leaves this former practicing lawyer wondering if FDLE itself should not be investigated by a Grand Jury.

    The Citizen’s coverage today of this breaking news includes:

    “I’m sure they’re going to get an earful,” said attorney David Horan, whose firm represents the Eimers family. “We have turned over all of our work product … to the state attorney’s office. That definitely has a potential for damaging the civil case, but it’s the right thing to do.”

  2. 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…

  3. As I have said before: ” The Feds are coming, The feds are coming” I believe that people in the Grand Jury room will feel the hair rise on the back of their necks. Civil case? Either the relatives of Eimers sue the Police involved in the wrongful death for everything they own or they sue the whole of Key West municipal for the grossest 100% violation of Eimers civil rights.

    • Might turn out, NYMINUTEMAN, that F.B.I. and US Attorney are where it needs to end up. Would be better, though, if it is dealt with appropriately down here in Key West, not unlike the Acevedo cases were dealt with down here. Perhaps with help of Florida Attorney General, because of FDLE role in what appears to be a massive cover up.

  4. I am woefully ignorant on the legal procedures, machinations, and what have you in this grand jury stuff, but it appears to me as if the state attorney is attempting to short change the process. Surely she knows that the FDLE investigation is purposely incomplete, tainted by conflict of interest, and thoroughly corrupted. By going to a grand jury now, knowing this, it seems to me as though she is trying to present the least amount of evidence to try and get a quick decision to toss the case and exonerate the cops.

    anybody that thinks the justice system is about justice, just hasn’t been paying attention.

  5. I too am not proficient in legaleze but in reading this breaking news piece, to my mind the most important aspect is that now is the time for all witnesses to come forward and give their accounts to the two prosecutors of what they witnessed.

    Is there a best way for these witnesses to go about giving their accounts so as to ensure there are no fumbles with their statements? Do they know who to call or address? Who are the people that make up the grand jury?

  6. About Florida Grand Juries: https://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/PI/RHandbook01.nsf/1119bd38ae090a748525676f0053b606/badd5b4fce22d788852569cb004cc254!OpenDocument

    Witnesses should contact the Monroe County State Attorney’s office: http://www.keyssao.org/

    Will this Grand Jury subpoena all readily available witnesses or will they simply sit back and allow those that chose to voluntarily come forward – by a certain deadline – make statements? According to Chris Weber, the Chief Investigator at SAO, as of Friday, there were no plans to actively seek out more information and witness testimony. Let us not forget that at least some employee eyewitnesses have reportedly been intimidated by KWPD officers and told not to speak out and that at least some, if not all, employee eyewitnesses were not questioned by FDLE during their investigation. Will these employees voluntarily come forward under these circumstances? What kind of investigation is this, where those in charge are willing to sit back and wait for easily identifiable eyewitnesses to volunteer their information? Wouldn’t it make more sense to subpoena all employee witnesses who were present during the altercation? Why didn’t FDLE do so and why isn’t the SAO telling us they plan to do so? Is there such a thing as too much evidence in a possible excessive force/homicide case?

    • Thanks for this information, Naja and Arnaud, and good questions.

      In 2012, I heard Cathy Vogel speak at several candidate forums from Key West to Key Largo. I did not come away feeling she would be tough on what then was called public corruption.

      I talked with Tom Milone this morning over breakfast at Harpoon Harry’s. Tom sits on the Key West Citizen (Police) Review Board – CRB, we call it down here. He said he is concerned Cathy Vogel is moving too fast and she should interview every possible witness she can find before going before the Grand Jury. I said I agreed. Tom asked if the Grand Jury can subpoena witnesses, and I said yes, just like the CRB can, but the CRB tends to stay away from pushing the envelop. This Grand Jury cannot do that: it has to make sure Vogel did her job before bringing the Grand Jury into it.

      Tom remained concerned about prone restraint being something the CRB needs to get into with the KWPD and the city government. I continued to say I hope the CRB will focus on police misbehavior, especially the massive cover up, which itself proved the cops on top of Charles Eimers did him wrong. I told Tom, if the CRB focuses on prone restraint, what the CRB and the KWPD will do is exonerate the cops on the beach that day, because they were not properly trained in the use of prone restraint.

      Certainly prone restraint on sand is a bad idea. But far more than prone restraint happened to Charles Eimers under those police officers. They believed he was homeless, and that’s why they were so rough with him. Then came the massive cover up. I told Tom, the cover up itself is felonious, prison time.

      The cover up eventually went all the way up to Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and again say I think Cathy Vogel should put FDLE before a Grand Jury, too.

      Sister, you are right about whistleblowers becoming after-the-fact accomplices if they don’t come forward with what they know. After the fact aiding and abetting in the spiritual and the societal sense, if not in the strict legal sense.

      Hopefully more witnesses will come forward and tell what they know. However, Key West, and the Florida Keys, are long known for bad things happening to people who blow the whistle. That’s the environment down here.

      That’s the environment Naja and Arnad went into, and took their children into, when they broke the Eimers case, and then continued to break it.

      That’s the environment David Paul Horan and his law firm went into, when they accepted the Eimers children as clients and then filed the federal plaintiffs lawsuit against 13 KWPD officers and the City of Key West.

      Ironically, David told me that he has been close to the cop who elbowed Eimers in the back of the head since that cop was a boy. David told me it was tough, for that reason, for him to take on the case. And also tough, because it was so bad for the KWPD. David told me it took him a long time to accept that Eimers died that day because he was suspected of being homeless.

      The danger to whistleblowers is why I keep saying the blue paper should get a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Eimers case, and an award from the City Commission for good citizenship. I also keep saying Mayor Cates and the city commissioners all should resign, because they have not publicly expressed remorse for what their police did to Charles Eimers, and they have not apologized to his children.

      • I spaced out reporting that Tom Milone said Val Winters was the Assistant State Attorney assigned to prosecute the case against several local high school kids who jumped Tom while he was out for a walk in his neighborhood one night and nearly beat him to death, just for the sport of it. Tom said he felt Winters did a good job. Tom said he felt Winters was a good prosecutor for the Eimers case. I said, so is Mark Wilson, if Catherine Vogel will turn them lose and do what all needs to be done to send the case to the Grand Jury.

  7. As many whistleblowers know these days, the only way to ensure your safety is to shout your information from the rooftops. If there are witnesses to the murder of Charles Eimers that are too afraid to come forward then they should go to bed every night with the knowledge that they are complicit in the murder.

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