The only image Kaeden can remember of his Dad is that of a comatose man connected to tubes and wires lying on a hospital bed. In fact Kaeden was only a few months old when, three years ago, his father, Matthew Shaun Murphy was ‘tased’ by a Key West police officer on Duval Street and fell into a coma.
“That was the last time we talked; the last words we said to each other were said that night before he fell,” says Marie Annulysse, Murphys fiancé and Kaeden’s mother.
On their way back home from a late night out with a friend, Murphy and Annulysse became involved in a racially charged argument with local fisherman Jason Moffet and his then girlfriend, Beverly Anderson. Murphy was 27 years old at the time, a white man from West Virginia, engaged to 24 year-old Marie, a black girl from Key West.
“Those people called him ‘nigger lover,’” said Marie, “I pushed Matthew across the street. I didn’t want an argument, but they yelled, ‘I’m gonna’ kick your nigger girlfriend’s ass!’ and ‘that’s how you make monkey children!’”
“So, Matthew crossed back over and started arguing with the man,” recalls Marie, “I tried to keep them from fighting. The next thing I knew Matthew was on the ground on his back twitching, his eyes rolled up into the back of his head.”
Murphy had just been ‘tased’ by Key West Police Officer Mark Siracuse. That morning, April 16, 2011, Matthew was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial hospital in Miami. He’s been there ever since. “I don’t know if I will ever get him back. I am alone raising our boy. We were engaged to be married the next month.“
Police officers’ accounts of what happened that night vary considerably from the eyewitness statements collected by The Blue Paper. Oh and of course, there is the video…
According to the police press release, as published in the Key West Citizen on April 24, 2011, officer Siracuse “repeatedly warned the man before shocking him with the Taser.” Murphy fell to the ground. But, in reports filed by both Officer Siracuse and Officer Jeffrey Dean, who arrived on scene just after Murphy was tased, the officers claim Murphy kept yelling at Moffet and actively resisted arrest, forcing officer Dean “to bend Murphy’s wrist and lean on his arm to make him comply.” The newspaper reported that the argument between the two couples began when someone hit Anderson’s dog.
But after speaking to the three eyewitnesses we’ve found so far and reviewing the two independent witness statements found in the police file, it appears that absolutely no warning was given prior to the officer firing the Taser.
We interviewed Jason Moffet, the “victim” of Murphy’s battery. Here are some of his responses:
BP: Was Murphy warned before the Taser was fired?
JM: “[He] never got to see the officer, never knew that the officer was there, never knew what hit him.”
BP: “Did [Murphy] resist arrest?”
JM: “He didn’t resist arrest. There was no resistance in him. He hit the ground, he wasn’t moving. He was convulsing. There was no resistance.”
BP: “What was the cause of the argument?”
JM: “She [Beverly] probably used ‘nigger’. There was a black girl with a white boy, but yes, Beverly instigated the fight. It was over a racial issue.”
BP: “Were you at any time in fear for your life?”
JM: “It was just a street fight. Nobody should have lost their life. The only reason I didn’t throw the first punch is because I saw the officer. If I wouldn’t have seen the officer it would have been me he tased instead of the young man. I knew there was going to be a physical fight but at no point was I in fear of my life; it was just a fight. I believe if the officer would’ve said ‘stop’, it would’ve all been done. He didn’t. He tased him.”
Beverly Anderson and Marie Annulysse gave the same account of what happened. We’ve learned that police Tasers have built-in video devices. We asked to see the recording. It’s a black and white horrific ‘zombie movie’ showing a man arched in excruciating pain, until left convulsing on the edge of consciousness. He makes a few cavernous sounds, like a slowed down recording. At one point you can barely make out an “I didn’t do anything.” He appears unable to move. Click here to see the video. [Warning: Video contains graphic content.]
Murphy is hand-cuffed within 22 seconds of the moment that Siracuse and Dean reach him on the ground. A few moments later, according to the reports, he would start vomiting and bleeding from the nose. He would be unconscious by the time EMS picked him up.
“They had to remove about a quarter of his skull,” says Meghan, Matthew Murphy’s sister, “The doctors were trying to relieve the pressure from the brain bleed, but his brain was still swelling. At this point, even if he gets out of the hospital, he will never be able to use his legs again. He can’t talk and he can’t feed himself.”
Matthew’s father, Marty, says he still manages to communicate with his son through blinking of the eyes: one blink for yes, two blinks for no.
Apparently, there was no hesitation, no soul searching down at the police station after Murphy was sent, in critical condition, to Jackson Memorial Hospital. There was no internal affairs investigation and no FDLE investigation.
This is actually odd because according to an agreement [a Memorandum of Understanding between KWPD and FDLE signed in 2003], FDLE is supposed to investigate not only ‘in-custody deaths’ but also “1[a] The infliction of serious bodily injury to a person by a City of Key West Police Officer.” Which means that there should have been an FDLE investigation. However, the FDLE confirmed on Wednesday that that didn’t happen.
But it gets worse. Not only was Murphy’s catastrophic injury not investigated, but he’s been ‘disappeared’ in police records. Arguably, Murphy should still be considered “in-custody” which means KWPD should be paying his enormous hospital bill, but you see, officially, Murphy is on the run. He is on FDLE’s ‘wanted list’, a criminal at large.
Could it be that the FDLE truly does not know about Murphy’s status? According to KWPD records, KWPD”s Captain Smith notified FDLE of the incident at 7:17 am on April 16, 2011 about an hour after Murphy was sent to Jackson Memorial. The specifics were reported to FDLE Agent Vince Weiner by KWPD Supervisor, Sergeant Areaka Jewell. So they know.
Many have questioned the good sense of having Captain Smith be the one to contact FDLE about such things since his ex-wife Kathy Smith is the Special Agent Supervisor overseeing local investigations.
This is beginning to show disturbing similarities to another FDLE investigation: the in-custody death of Charles Eimers, resulting from an arrest on South Beach last Thanksgiving. One wonders why the FDLE agents almost let Eimers’ body be cremated before the medical examiner could perform a mandatory autopsy and why FDLE claims to be searching for Matthew Shaun Murphy, a man the police left completely handicapped on a hospital bed three years ago.
They even have a ‘send a tip’ button on their website to help find Murphy, the ‘fugitive from justice’ [however FDLE has no ‘send a tip’ button set up to find the missing video[s ]or witnesses to Charles Eimers’ unfortunate death.]
There are a lot more questions than answers in this affair.
“We didn’t even get an apology from the police,” says Marie, “I am here alone taking care of our son. Even if Matthew comes back to us, he’s never going to be able to help his son. And these people treat us as if we didn’t exist.”
To access all Blue Paper articles on the tasing of Matthew Shaun Murphy click here.