Thanksgiving Day Death: Top Investigator Demoted

The plot thickens in the death of a tourist in police custody.  It’s no longer just Charles Eimers’ death at the end of Duval Street on Thanksgiving Day that is controversial, the investigation itself has begun to smell like a certain kingdom in Denmark.

This week we learned that detective Todd Stevens, KWPD’s top investigator in Eimers’ death has been demoted and removed from the Detective Unit.  He is no longer involved in the case.

Apparently, it was Stevens who nearly allowed Eimer’s body to be cremated before the medical examiner had a chance to perform an autopsy. Instead of being sent to the Monroe County medical examiner, Eimers’ body was sent for cremation to Dean Lopez Funeral Home.  It stayed there for 7 days, the main evidence in the case all set to be turned into ashes at any moment.

Interestingly enough it is a December 10th inquiry from The Blue Paper that apparently raised the issue – just before it was too late.

“When you [The Blue Paper] asked in the email about Mr. Eimers’ status,” P.I.O Alyson Crean wrote, “I asked Captain Smith, who called Detective Stevens who in turn answered that Mr. Eimers was still on life support and had not died.  About an hour later, Captain Smith and Chief Lee came to my office to tell me that he had, in fact, died.  Detective Stevens had not been in timely contact with the hospital as he had been instructed to do.”

“It’s a miracle that the body was not cremated,” Robert Dean of Dean Lopez Funeral Home told The Blue Paper.  The Funeral Home very rarely keeps a body for more than the two days required by law. It was a pure fluke that the schedule at Dean Lopez was extraordinarily loaded that week and did not allow for the cremation of Charles Eimers’ body for 7 whole days.

Was Detective Stevens unaware that Charles Eimers had been removed from life support at the hospital?  This is what Charles’ son Treavor Eimers, told us:

“I spoke to Stevens on the 5th of December, the day after my father passed.  One of the first things I remember saying to him was that I was sorry I hadn’t called him back the day before, but my father had passed away and I had been too troubled to call him.”

Yet, according to the KWPD spokesperson Alyson Crean, the Chief of Police was not made aware of Eimers’ death until five days later.

Several criminal attorneys we spoke with thought this was a very serious matter:  Under Florida Statute 406.11, the medical examiner must determine the cause of death in any suspicious or unusual circumstance, or when there is an accident, and specifically any time there is a death “in police custody”.  Under Florida Statute 406.12, “Any person who knowingly fails to report such death and circumstances (…) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

It is also becoming obvious that State Attorney Catherine Vogel has been made aware of possible misconduct in the investigation of Eimer’s death.

And then there is the issue of the mysterious missing video.  During the arrest, which lead to Mr. Eimers death, at least two videos were shot.  One was published by The Blue Paper on December 13th.  That one was shot by a woman (whose voice can be heard on the recording) and the other by a man who is seen in the first video walking down the pier.  This week we received information from a credible witness that the man on the pier showed his film to police officers that day on South Beach.  That man allegedly said, “I have the whole thing on film.”  Our witness says that police officers doing “crowd control” immediately went to speak with the man who had “the whole thing on film” yet when we asked Alyson Crean two weeks later whether the department had any video showing the officers arresting Eimers we were told “no”.

  • An officer allegedly went over to talk to a man with an essential video but didn’t ask for a copy.
  • The Chief KWPD investigator in the case lost track of the body and failed to notify the medical examiner or his Chief while the body awaited cremation instead of an autopsy.
  • A hospital physician initially signed a certificate declaring Eimers died of  “natural causes” as though the investigator hadn’t disclosed the true circumstances of the death.

Is that investigator the same person who “ordered” Joelle, the restaurant hostess who allegedly saw it all, not to talk to us?

All the officers involved refused to cooperate with the investigation and only filed mandatory reports (under protest) after being forced by their Chief of Police to do so.

The one report that differed from the made-up version was initially suppressed. Meanwhile, the made-up version of the arrest remained the official version until disproved by a bystander’s video.

Finally, the investigation into the death of Charles Eimers appears tangled with the demotion of a top detective and possible criminal misconduct. One might wonder whether the investigation itself is compromised and how many people will actually trust in its findings, whatever they might turn out to be.

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