THANKSGIVING DAY TRAGEDY: Increasing Doubts About What Really Happened To Charles Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers was finally going to realize his dream: leave Michigan and spend a winter in Key West.  It was Thanksgiving morning and at 61 years of age Eimers had made it to the Southernmost City. But before his first day in the ‘tropics’ was over he would mysteriously die in the hands of police, on South Beach, at the foot of Duval Street.

Eimers had been a GM man, living in Michigan all his life. Now, with four children all grown up and rearing kids of their own, with his GM pension and full health insurance in place, he was going to get a taste of the ‘tropics’.

“He planned to keep occupied by volunteering,” said his son, Treavor Eimers, “He didn’t need to work; he had enough to live on with his pension.  He liked to live below his means.”

Treavor, who is a nurse anesthetist living in Northern Michigan, said he watched the video of his father’s arrest published by The Blue Paper last week [Issue #40] and was shocked by the discrepancies between what was shown in that video and the version of the incident he’d been given by Key West police.

“Detective Todd Stevens told me my dad was aggressive from the moment he got out of the car,” said Treavor on the phone, “He said that he wouldn’t put his hands behind his back and that he fought the police even after he had been handcuffed and then collapsed all of a sudden and couldn’t be revived.”

Actually, that closely resembles the description of events we were given when we first asked the City for information the day after the incident:

“An older man was stopped for driving erratically. While the officer was out with him, he drove off. Police followed … Not in pursuit. The msn pulled up at south beach and officers approached him. He was again erratic and resisted officers approach, then apparently collapsed unconscious and was transported to the hospital…”

-  November 29 email from City spokesperson Alyson Crean

But that official version has become increasingly questionable.  It began with the fact that contrary to initial police reports, a video provided by a bystander shows Charles Eimers complying with police in every way. Then there were the numerous eyewitnesses who told us that Eimers was tased until dead.  And now there is this ever more troubling revelation:  contrary to the official theory that Eimers’ death was caused by a pre-existing heart condition, Eimers’ family was informed by the Monroe County Medical Examiner, Dr. E. Scheuerman, that Eimers did not die of a heart attack.

Then what killed him?   What can kill a man who appears in good health, walking on the beach while smoking a cigarette and what could do the trick in what witnesses say was less than 6 minutes?

We know he was face down on the beach, as many as six police officers were immediately surrounding him, and at least one of them had his knee on Eimers’ back.  The handcuffs were so tight that an officer who accidentally got his fingers stuck in the cuff was crying out in pain.

“His wrists were chewed up, totally lacerated, covered with bandages even a week later at the hospital,” says Treavor.

According to police statements, no Tasers were used.  Eimers stopped breathing, turned blue, and went limp.  A defibrillator was brought in but the machine’s diagnostics said “no shock advised”.  Eimers was never brought back to consciousness and was pronounced dead six days later when he was disconnected from a mechanical ventilator.  Up to that point he had a “life sustaining heart rhythm” according to what medical professionals who treated him at Lower Florida Keys Medical Center told Treavor Eimers.

Multiple eyewitnesses told The Blue Paper that when officers tried to lift Eimers to his feet they were shocked to see his face all caked up with sand.  Could Eimers have died of asphyxiation?

One physician we spoke to [not involved in Eimers’ care] who has emergency room experience told us that Eimers’ symptoms [blue in the face, limp, non-shockable heart rhythm] are consistent with asphyxiation.

“He had sand all the way up his nostrils and in his mouth,” says one eyewitness who also gave a statement to FDLE but asked us not to reveal his identity.

When looking at an asphyxiation scenario the use of a Taser or even a run-of-the-mill stun gun takes on dramatic significance.  According to Taser International, the company that makes Taser/stun gun devices, electro-shock by such devices creates powerful muscle contractions.  The effect on the body is similar to an intense workout (pain aside) and requires rapid and deep breathing.   Arguably, in such cases the lapse of time needed for fatal asphyxiation to occur may be extraordinarily shorter than normal.

The police department is emphatic that “no Tasers were used.”  But this may be a play on words.  Witnesses claiming to have seen a Taser used against Eimers were reportedly asked by an FDLE investigator whether they could tell the difference between a stun gun and a Taser.  [They couldn’t.]  Could some officers be “packing a personal piece”?  Some sort of over-the-counter stun gun – which, unlike police Tasers, do not have an internal log that records their usage?

Here was a 61-year-old man, out of breath, with hand-cuffs cutting into his skin, sand entering his nose and mouth, being kneed in the back – maybe even shocked with a stun gun.  Could the officers have confused his signals of distress for lack of air with resisting arrest – until it was too late?

Reportedly Eimers’ family was told by the medical examiner that Eimers suffered severe brain damage resulting from Anoxic Encephalopathy (AE), which means that Eimers’ brain was deprived of oxygen.  In layman’s terms, Eimers went “brain dead” from lack of air.  Exactly how that happened is likely to be explained by the medical examiner’s official report.

Or will it?   There’s been an unexpected complication with Eimers’ autopsy:  the body was “lost” for a week.  Apparently, the body left the hospital but the medical examiner was not immediately notified.  The medical examiner blames the hospital for not sending him the body and the hospital blames the police for not notifying them of the need to contact the medical examiner. The body was mistakenly sent to Dean Lopez Funeral Home.

“They’re playing the blame game,” says Treavor, “The medical examiner said some of his judgments may be limited because we’re talking a week after his death. This may limit some of the conclusions he could reach.”  The autopsy occurred on December 12th, two weeks after the arrest on the beach.  If a stun gun were used, would marks still be visible fourteen days later?

“As soon as I heard my dad was at the hospital,” says Treavor, “I headed to Key West.  I was on  the road within 24 hours.  My dad had recently been diagnosed with mild congestive heart failure.  It’s fairly common, but he was taking his medication and was walking a couple of miles a day.  I watched the video showing his arrest, I cannot understand how this arrest could have ended up in his death. ”

“My dad would never hurt a soul,” says Erica Garcia, Eimers’ daughter, “In fact, he would give the shirt off his back and the last dollar in his pocket.  My dad didn’t deserve to die like this.”

“If there was any wrongdoing, I want people to be held accountable,” says Charles Eimers’ son Joshua Eimers, “I hope the truth will come out.  I plead for anyone that knows anything more to not be afraid to come forward.”

 

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

 

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!

19 comments on “THANKSGIVING DAY TRAGEDY: Increasing Doubts About What Really Happened To Charles Eimers

  1. Thank you Naja for being so persistent. Please anyone with information to this case come forward. My father didn’t have to die. The police are being very evasive and dishonest. We need your help in getting to the truth.

    • turning blue ‘is’ the result of asphyxiation and apparently his cause of death. compressing his lungs with a knee on his back and having sand in his nose and mouth restricting air-flow might in short order just do the trick and even quicker if an electric blast from a tazer or stun gun restricted yet further his ability to breathe. as the witness said last week who was published as a nyc police officer … this was ‘murder by cop’.
      i too hope justice will be done….but i ain’t holding my breath!

  2. folks never never never believe your lieing eyes! gads….that video said it all. big cya [cover your ass] going on. that video shows a very passive man getting down gently on his knees and then stomach….to be piled on by a half a dozen of key west’s infamous with what looks like guns drawn and with one ‘goon’ shoving his knee into the elderly mans back.
    this is as my memory serves since it seems the last issue #40 has dissappeared and the video is needed to refresh my memory but its gone perhaps to lopez funeral home?
    my impression was extreme excessive force against a passive man on his stomach was shown in the video but then again i surely can’t trust my lieing eyes! i won’t be called for jury duty for sure.

  3. One would think Mayor Cates and the six city commissioners and the city manager and the city attorney would be calling for a full investigation, even calling in the FEDS, but I have heard of no such calling for – has anyone else? Bill O’Reilly’s recent slam-Key West documentary was a flaming kudo compared to this Thanksgiving turkey bake off. Condolences and apologies to the decedent’s family, rest assured many people in Key West are not happy about what happened (gross understatement)

    • Sloan, you must remember that the FDLE is made up of ex-Monroe County law enforcement. I don’t know if she still is, but the head of FDLE was once the wife of a KWPD officer. You won’t get honesty out of that bunch.

  4. I am the youngest sister of Charles Eimers. It sickens me to think that ANY HUMAN could do to my brother what the Police officers of Key West did to him. They MURDERED him! Chuck was a kind and generous human being who would help ANYONE in need, rather he knew them or they were a perfect stranger to him. His daughter Erica expressed it perfectly when she said “he would give you the shirt off his back or the last dollar in his pocket” and never expect anything in return. He looked for the good in people not the negative. He did not deserve to die like this! I want his perpetrators to know that he was not a “disposable” individual. He had children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and a large extended family who loved him! I want to see justice done and his killers called to justice!

    • I felt sick when I saw this video. The police are trained to lie .I was arrested by a corrupt cop 10 years ago. He said I was over the limit, DWI. . The first thing I did when I was released was to go down to Quest Diagnostic for a blood and urine test. Your lawyer is not going to tell you to do that. I was able to get the charges dropped because of the test.
      SHELLYK, we were all horrified when we saw what they did to your brother. Did you file a complaint with The FBI corrupt cop division yet?? Our prayers are with your family. This could of happened to any of us or our loved ones.

  5. This is awful, absolutely disgusting. The officers responsible should be tried for murder because that’s what it is. To the family, you deserve answers. I’m not sure how, but perhaps request a federal investigation. This needs to be looked at by someone other than anyone in Key West. Please know that the people of Key West are behind you and will do whatever we can to support you. So very sorry for your loss.

    • Our madam prosecutor will not investigate or charge them even though we have the video evidence as proof of the murder. She will never charge them because the police will stop issuing summonses in retailiation. If no summonses are issued the court house will be empty. If the courthouse is emty, the lawyers offices will also be emty.

  6. If you have information or know someone who does please contact the Florida Department Of Law Enforcement. This is an ongoing investigation and the police are trying to sweep this under the rug. This was my father. We need your help! It was bad enough to lose my father. I thought he just simply died of a heart attack. Then two weeks later we realize we’ve been lied to from the start .

  7. The police even told a key eyewitnes not to say anything after giviing an initial statement of my father being tasered for several minutes while handcuffed face down in the sand. The brutality of my father’s death breaks my heart.

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