Young Father Tased By Key West Police Officer Remains Hospitalized Three Years Later

IMG_9607

Photo provided by Meghan Murphy

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.

Marie and Mathew

Marie Annulysse and Matthew Shaun Murphy,
Life before the Taser
Photo provided by Marie Annulysse

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.

Mathew and sister Meghan in happier days

Matthew and sister Meghan
in happier times
Photo provided by Meghan Murphy

“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.

Mathew now

Matthew Murphy at Jackson Memorial
Photo provided by Marie Annulysse

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.”

Stay tuned.

~~~~~~~~~~

To access all Blue Paper articles on the tasing of Matthew Shaun Murphy click here.


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!

11 comments on “Young Father Tased By Key West Police Officer Remains Hospitalized Three Years Later

  1. Arnaud and Naja, you guys ROCK! How many more stories are there of misconduct by the KWPD? Keep up the good work, some one has to keep fighting for the “little guy” because the other papers are afraid to do it.

  2. I learned of this article being published today when I dropped by Naja and Arnaud’s home last night to tell them the CBS video on the Charles Eimers case, which went down for a while yesterday, back up and working.

    When Naja asked me, as a former practicing attorney, what I thought the cop who used the taser should have done, I said, if I were the cop, I would have gotten between the two men and told them to stand down. I would have had the taser drawn and ready to use.

    When Naja said the police need better training, I said I didn’t think that is the issue. The issue is, why was this cop hired to begin with? No amount of training would get this cop to do what a good cop would have done.

    That was before I had read the article. After reading the article this morning, I still say, if I had been that cop, I would have gotten between the two men, with taser drawn, and told them to stand down.

    When Naja argued that the city should pay the disabled man’s medical costs and damages to his fiance and their child, I said I agreed, but I doubted the city would go along with it. Mayor Cates declined to pay just the burial costs of a homeless man one of his daughters ran over and killed on North Roosevelt Blvd shortly after he was elected; from all I had been able to learn, it seemed she and the homeless man were both partially at fault.

    When Naja repeated that the city should pay for what the cop did to the now hospitalized and crippled man, I said I didn’t see today’s jurisprudence going along with that. Tasers are accepted by cities, counties, states, the federal government and the courts as acceptable police weapons; it has been decided that protecting police officers from injury while doing what they sometimes have to do is more important than an unexpected tasing casualty such as this poor man’s experienced.

    When Naja asked whether I htought a lawyer could bring a lawsuit for this man, I said I didn’t think a lawyer would do it, but if it happened, there might be some sort of settlement.

    That also was before I read the article this morning. If you have witnesses giving different versions of what actually happened, that makes the case tougher to prove, thus tougher for a lawyer to want to take on.

    It’s truly a horrible case. The lack of any Internal Affairs and FDLE investigation hardly surprises me.

    I learned just the other day that two of the KWPD officers, who were on top of Charles Eimers at South Beach, had prior investigations against them by the Key West Citizens Review Board, and there was nothing about those CRB investigations in those officers’ personnel files at KWPD. Naja confirmed that last night. [Note by Naja: My knowledge is limited to one police officer who was there but not known to have been on top of Charles Eimers has been before the CRB multiple times but that nothing in his personnel file indicates that those CRB complaints - and assumed internal affairs investigations - ever took place.]

    I don’t expect to see Mayor Cates and the city commissioners do any more about Mathew Murphy’s case, than they have done about the Charles Eimers case. I expect them to continue to back their police and give them awards, no matter what comes out.

  3. in an early issue on the eimers case i commented
    “lastly do the citizens of key west need arm themselves for self protection from rouge elements of the kwpd? or need they organize a militia for self protection against traffic stops?
    done in sarcasm…..but now i’m reconsidering!

    • Wankajm, not a bad idea. Personally I am always armed, either open or concealed (depending on the state) What’s really needed in Key West is to get rid of all the under trained, under supervised, incompetent, little boys on the police force.

      ,

      • this severe injury to mr murphy and again an apparently false police report and the absurdity of him being a fugitive and no investigation what so ever just a sweep it under the rug routine happens also on chief lee’s watch.
        i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again…lee needs be replaced with an impecibly honest and ethical chief that will ‘lay down the law’ to the key west police department and demand and require honest reporting by his officers and hold them accountable for poor behavior.
        behavior leading to such as the outcome mr murphy finds himself as a result of apparent officer misbehavior and incompetance and cover up.
        no citizen like mr murphy and mr eimers should ever be subjected to this type of slam bam serious police action for such minor chickenshit reason.

  4. This case is beyond the pale. It appears that the inmates are running the asylum. With regards to this case and Mr. Eimer’s death, I request our State Attorney Catherine Vogel to open an investigation.

    I believe a separate examination by her office will reveal the facts. Catherine Vogel is a capable and competent prosecutor, with a cadre of superb professionals.

    Securing evidence related to both incidents, will move us towards a resolution of these disturbing events. Justice, clarity, confidence and integrity will be restored to a damaged community. The healing process can begin, as the lessons learned will strengthen the ties that bind us together.

  5. Time will tell about Cathy Vogle and these two cases. Personally, I think it will take something extraordinary to render justice, clarity, confidence, integrity to this community, and healing. A Divine Intervention, to be specific, for which I pray.

Leave a Reply